“The Old Cold War Paradigm Is Irrelevant In The New Cold War”, which Indian Professor of International Relations Rajesh Rajagopalan just discovered, but it’s important for everyone else to be aware of this as well. Unlike during the Old Cold War where the US and USSR competed to promote their capitalist and communist worldviews correspondingly, the New Cold War is being fought over whether the global systemic transition continues evolving towards multipolarity or retains most of unipolarity’s trappings.
Multipolar conservative-sovereigntists (MCS) respect every country’s sovereign right to develop according to whichever models they’d like while unipolar liberal-globalists (ULG) want to force everyone to apply Western models. For the most part, the Sino-Russo Entente and the Global South embrace MCS while the US-led West’s GoldenBillion and its vassals promote ULG. There are a few notable exceptions, but this insight represents the simplified geopolitical-ideational fault lines of the New Cold War.
Intrepid readers can learn more about the dynamics of this competition in the following analyses:
The abovementioned analyses add context to Russia’s new foreign policy concept that can be read here.
The present piece focuses on the 58th paragraph and its four subclauses concerning Russia’s relations with Latin America, which are of relevance to the Western Hemispheric dimension of its grand strategy as articulated in the preceding hyperlinked document from 31 March. For everyone’s convenience, this part of that detailed policy paper will now be shared in full below prior to analyzing its importance in the larger context:
“58. Given the progressive strengthening of the sovereignty and multifaceted potential of Latin American and Caribbean states, the Russian Federation intends to develop relations with them on a pragmatic, de ideologized and mutually beneficial basis, giving priority attention to:
1) supporting interested Latin American states under pressure from the United States and its allies in securing sovereignty and independence, including through the promotion and expansion of security, military and military-technical cooperation;
2) strengthening friendship, mutual understanding and deepening multifaceted mutually beneficial partnership with the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, developing relations with other Latin American states, taking into account the degree of independence and constructiveness of their policy towards the Russian Federation;
3) increasing mutual trade and investment with Latin American and Caribbean States, including through cooperation with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Common Market of the South. The Central American Integration System, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas, the Pacific Alliance, and the Caribbean Community;
4) expanding cultural, scientific, educational, sports, tourism and other humanitarian ties with the states of the region.”
Immediate attention should be drawn to the open sentence about the “pragmatic, de ideologized and mutually beneficial basis” of Russia’s envisaged relations with Latin America. This approach perfectly aligns with the precepts of MCS, particularly Moscow’s respect for its partners’ right to develop according to whichever models they’d like. In practice, this means that Russia’s comparatively more right-wing socio-cultural policies at home aren’t an impediment to expanding ties with left-wing states.
That explains why it’s extremely close with Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, all three of which have either abstained from or voted against anti-Russian Resolutions at the UNGA since the start of Moscow’s specialoperation. It also signals Russia’s intent to continue exploring the expansion of mutually beneficial economically driven relations with Brazil in spite of their increasingly diverging worldviews under Lula’s third term as explained in detail citing official sources in these analyses here and here.
Unlike the US’ ULG, Russia’s MCS policymakers don’t care how their country’s partners organize their economic, political, and/or socio-cultural systems, hence why they’re extending an offer of support to strengthen their sovereignty via military-technical and other means despite their different models. All that’s important for the Kremlin is that its partners remain reliable and continue respecting Russia’s legitimate interests without criticizing them or meddling in its related affairs.
Should they continue to do so and this pragmatic worldview expands further throughout the region, then the geopolitical-ideational basis will be more solidly established for comprehensively advancing Russia’s relations with those regional integration platforms mentioned in the third clause above. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is the most promising of them all, however, and Venezuelan President Maduro’s expectations of its future global role complement Russian interests.
The final clause regarding people-to-people ties is important for sustaining both sides’ mutually beneficial cooperation in the New Era, the present decade of which can also be described as the Age of Complexity. Ideologically driven disinformation agents are already at work trying to brainwash Latin Americans into thinking that Russia’s comparatively more right-wing socio-cultural policies at home preclude the possibility of any left-wing governments ever pragmatically cooperating with it.
According to this information warfare narrative, it would allegedly be a “betrayal” of their movements’ beliefs to work together with any country that holds polar opposite ones in some respects, the notion of which is weaponized by the US’ ruling liberal–globalists to divide-and-rule Russia and Latin America. The so-called “New Left” that’s rising in the region differs from the “Old Left” in the sense that the former are largely insincere in their working-class rhetoric and care more about fighting “culture wars”.
Their obsession with so-called “critical race theory” and aggressive propagation of non-traditional sexual relations onto all members of society (including children) take precedence over tangibly improving the living conditions of the population whose economic interests they purport to represent. These causes are the same as those that are being imposed by the US’ Democrats onto their own people and aggressively propagated across the world, hence these movements’ informal alliance with one another.
Upon falling under the influence of the US’ liberal-globalists, the Latin American “New Left” (which the Workers’ Party’s elite during Lula’s third term can also be characterized as per the prior analyses earlier shared in this piece) gradually began to align with their ally’s foreign policy. This explains why the Brazilian leader became the first BRICS one to personally condemn Russia in his joint statement with Biden from February and decided to continue Bolsonaro’s policy of votingagainst it at the UNGA.
At the same time, however, the “Old Left” that’s represented by Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and also Bolivia (which for whatever reason wasn’t mentioned by name in Russia’s new foreign policy concept despite being a reliable partner) continues setting a positive geopolitical-ideational example. They’re more focused on tangibly improving their people’s living conditions than on fighting “culture wars”, hence why they remain resistant to the US Democrats’ influence, unlike the Workers’ Party’s elite.
Accordingly, they haven’t voted against Russia at the UNGA either, once again unlike Lula’s Brazil. The emerging challenge across Latin America will therefore be for the “Old Left” to positively influence the “New Left” at least in the geopolitical sense of appreciating the mutually beneficial importance of pragmatically expanding ties with Russia despite pressure from their newfound US ideological ally to distance themselves from it and vote against Moscow at the UNGA.
It’s with this imperative in mind that Russia’s official de-ideologization of its relations with Latin America deserves maximum attention. Those “New Left” movements that continue falling under the US Democrats’ pernicious geopolitical influence due to their overlapping ideational interests will ultimately end up doing some of that declining unipolar hegemon’s bidding in the New Cold War. The failure to stop and reverse this HybridWar trend could ultimately doom all of Latin America to US vassalhood.
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, despite being vaccinated – and he is far from alone. The latest ZOE data shows that, as of July 12th, infections in the vaccinated (with at least one dose) in the U.K. now outnumber those in the unvaccinated for the first time, as the former continue to surge while the latter plummet (see above). (Note that 68% of the population has had at least one vaccine dose, so there are still at this stage disproportionately more new infections in the unvaccinated, though on current trends that may soon change.) At what point will the Government accept that these vaccines have limited efficacy in preventing infection and transmission, and thus the whole rationale of being vaccinated to protect others – vaccine passports, compulsory vaccination, and so on – is suspect?
The above graph was in yesterday’s report, so I downloaded today’s report (you can get it by signing up to the app and reporting your symptoms) to get the new update. I was dismayed to find the graph was gone. At the bottom, a note explains: Removed incidence graph by vaccination status from the report as there are very few unvaccinated users in the infection survey, the Confidence Intervals are very wide and the trend for unvaccinated people is no longer representative. Which I would say is very convenient, just as infections in the vaccinated became the majority. Perhaps ZOE should try to recruit some more unvaccinated people for its survey, so it can continue to report on this as well as have a control group for its vaccine data? That would seem the scientific thing to do, rather than just stop reporting it because it is suddenly “no longer representative”.
It’s doubly odd because Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE app, made the decline among the unvaccinated a feature of his video this week. So the realisation that the trend is “no longer representative” appears to have been rather sudden, even invalidating the contents of a ZOE ‘data release‘ two days earlier.
Britain has opted against mass COVID-19 vaccinations for all children and teenagers, with ministers instead preparing to offer doses to vulnerable 12 to 15-year-olds and those about to turn 18, the Telegraph newspaper reported late on Saturday. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is believed to have advised ministers against the rollout of vaccines to all children until further evidence on the risks is available, the report added. Under guidance the newspaper said are due to be issued on Monday, vaccine doses will be offered to children between 12 and 15 who are deemed vulnerable to COVID-19 or who live with adults who are immunosuppressed or otherwise vulnerable to the virus.
They will also now be offered to all 17-year-olds within three months of their 18th birthday, according to The Telegraph, which reported that the committee would keep the possibility of vaccinating all children “under review.” In response to the report, Britain’s Health Department said that “no decisions have been made by ministers on whether people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered COVID-19 vaccines.” Britain on Saturday reported 54,674 new COVID-19 cases, a rise on the 51,870 new cases reported on the previous day to post a fresh highest daily total in six months.
On June 23, an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met to discuss, among other topics, vaccine-related cases of myocarditis, which have hospitalized hundreds of adolescents. Evidence of a correlation between the condition, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and the vaccines had been mounting for months. Numerous countries had altered or withheld recommendations for pediatric vaccination, with some citing an ambiguous risk-benefit. One day after the committee meeting, however, CDC director Rochelle Walensky went on TV and calmly reassured viewers that there was nothing to worry about: Vaccinating kids age 12 and up, at the full dosage and same schedule as adults, should continue with alacrity.
Walensky cited a string of statistics that showed “the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any harm.” But some epidemiologists, public health experts, pediatricians, cardiologists, and other scientists dispute the CDC’s numbers, characterizations, and conclusion. The agency, they variously contend, is both exaggerating the risks of Covid-19 to young people and underplaying the potential risks of the vaccine to them. Much data that would support the CDC’s declarations are either unknown, unrevealed, or far messier than the agency and its director portray. And the data that are known and clear have been projected through a specific lens with blunt certainty. The absolute risk of the vaccine still appears to be extremely small for young people but, on balance, when the data are seen through a different frame, the relative individual risk from vaccination, particularly for healthy young males, may be higher than it is to not be vaccinated at this time.
There is no debate among most experts critical of the CDC about the value of vaccines on a societal level to help usher in the end of the pandemic, which is the ultimate goal of the vaccine. Rather, the matter at hand is the CDC’s messaging, which fails to help parents and children make properly informed decisions about the vaccines on an individual level. As Stefan Baral, an epidemiologist and physician at Johns Hopkins, recently tweeted, “One can be both very pro-Covid-19 vaccination and also be worried about the individual risk:benefit profile of Covid-19 vaccines in <16 yo.”
First, the link between the mRNA vaccines and myocarditis, particularly in young males, is sufficiently clear that the FDA revised its vaccine fact sheets to include a warning about it. As of June 11 (the latest date most data were collected for the meeting), 128 cases within seven days of the second dose had been reported in boys aged 12 to 17, when the CDC’s expected number for that same population was zero to four cases. VAERS, the reporting database for vaccine-related adverse events that these statistics are drawn from, has limitations. Some portion of the events reported may be unrelated to the vaccines. But the differential between expected and observed cases within certain cohorts is the statistical equivalent of a blaring siren. (A detailed analysis in Israel estimated the incidence of myocarditis following vaccination in young males to be around one in 5,000, equating to 200 cases per million.)
It took Salk 7 years to get a real vaccine, which you still don’t have, and maybe never will. Nuff said. How did this crazed loose cannon become the most trusted voice, and what does that tell us about America?
Top US scientist Anthony Fauci on Saturday blasted commentators who sound an anti-vaccination theme, saying America might still be battling smallpox and polio if today’s kind of misinformation existed back then. The comments from the country’s leading infectious disease expert reflected mounting frustration over the sharp slowdown in the Covid-19 vaccination rate in the United States, even as the disease has been surging in states with low rates. It also came days after President Joe Biden expressed his own visible frustration, saying social media that carry widely heard misinformation about vaccines are “killing people.”
Fauci was responding to a CNN interviewer who asked if he thought “we could have defeated the measles or eradicated polio if you had Fox News, night after night, warning people about these vaccine issues that are just bunk.” Fauci said: “We probably would still have smallpox and we probably would still have polio … if we had the kind of false information that’s being spread.” Initial vaccine skepticism in many areas has increasingly evolved into outright hostility, a message magnified by baseless conspiracy theories regularly aired on Fox and other conservative networks. “Maybe it doesn’t work and they’re simply not telling you that,” Tucker Carlson, one of Fox’s most popular commentators, said recently.
President Joe Biden slammed Big Tech companies this week for “killing people” by failing to engage in even greater censorship of free speech on issues related to the pandemic. It was a surprising condemnation of companies who have been loyal allies of Biden, including killing stories embarrassing to his family like the Hunter Biden laptop scandal before the election. It also has censored stories questioning his victory in 2020. Nevertheless, Biden denounced the range of uncensored free speech as the cause of death for many — the ultimate anti-free speech trope for those seeking to convince people to embrace their own censorship. Biden was asked by a reporter what his message was to “platforms like Facebook” on the subject of “COVID misinformation.”
He responded “They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.” This comes as these companies have been criticized for censoring debates over the origin or treatment of Covid-19. For a year, Big Tech has been censoring those who wanted to discuss the origins of pandemic. It was not until Biden admitted that the virus may have originated in the Wuhan lab that social media suddenly changed its position. Facebook only recently announced that people on its platform will be able to discuss the origins of Covid-19 after censoring any such discussion. The White House recently admitted that it was flagging “misinformation” for censorship by companies like Facebook. Moreover, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has called for people to be banned from all social media if any one company bans them.
Biden is accusing these companies of actually killing people for refusing even more extensive censorship of speech. The statement equates free speech with death itself. We have seen this type of reckless rhetoric in other areas where disagreement with a policy or proposal is treated as de facto racism or hate speech. That was the case recently with the NAACP official who denounced those of opposing what is commonly referred to as critical race theory lessons as haters of a long litany of groups from the disabled to children to “help people.” This was followed by the chilling words “Let them die.”
Rather than seek to convince the skeptical, Biden wants to silence them and use these companies to control what is read and discussed about the pandemic. What is chilling is the degree to which reporters and academics have supported the massive censorship system in the United States. However, that system is clearly not (to use Sen. Blumenthal’s words) “robust enough” for Biden who wants these companies to carry out a more complete censorship of opposing views.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has made waves and caused outrage by refusing to enforce the city’s reinstated mask policy, saying the decision is “not backed by science.” Los Angeles County health officials shocked many this week when they announced that their mask mandate would be returning. Similar to the restriction in place before the county began reopening last month, residents have been told to wear masks in indoor settings and large gatherings, regardless of one’s vaccination status. County officials reinstated the mask mandate due to new Covid-19 daily cases reaching over 1,000 every day for a week. Health officials also cited the Delta variant as a reason why people “need to reduce our risk of infection and our risk for potentially infecting others.”
Villanueva, who is up for reelection next year, was quick to respond to the mandate, and made it clear that he and his officers would have no part in helping the county enforce the new rule. “Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” he said in a statement. The “underfunded” department, the sheriff added, will not be using their “limited resources” to make sure people are in compliance, though he made sure to say they “have the authority” to enforce if they wanted to. The sheriff is asking for “voluntary compliance” from residents instead.
Six players on the New York Yankees have tested positive for Covid-19, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters Thursday, in the second instance this year of breakthrough cases occurring among some members of the baseball team. “We have three positives, and we have three pending that we’ve had rapid tests on,” Cashman said, saying the three positive rapid tests are being confirmed with additional lab work. The players with confirmed positive tests are pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta, according to the team. The three unnamed players have results pending.
The three named players were all vaccinated, according to the team. Two of the players received Johnson & Johnson vaccines and the other was from either Pfizer or Moderna, Cashman says. The pitchers are “doing well thus far,” Cashman said, while he declined to comment on the unnamed players until final confirmation of their positive tests are received by the team. Earlier this season, eight positive tests were recorded among coaching and travel staff, all of whom had previously taken the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Of the team members who tested positive, only one showed mild symptoms and his condition improved, the Yankees said.
Emhoff spoke to the 44-year-old man as if he was a toddler at the doctor’s office. “Don’t be nervous. It won’t hurt. I’ve had it. I can take it. So don’t be scared,” Emhoff told Posadas. The immigrant then stood off to the side while Emhoff shook hands with doctors and medical staff from Ochsner Health. After posing for photos, Emhoff turns back to Posadas. “Gustava, thank you so much. Muy importante,” Emhoff said in English-accented Spanish. “What do you have to say to people? And you’re going to tell a bunch of people…?” “I tell everybody,” Posadas said in Spanish-accented English. “I don’t want this before. But now I think this is real…” “This is real,” Emhoff says, completing his sentence. “And it’s the only thing that is going to prevent you, your family and others from dying or getting really sick.”
Say what? A vaccine is the only thing that is going to prevent people from dying from COVID? Is this what the Biden administration’s door knockers are telling people in private? The recovery rate for COVID is 98 to 99 percent. Almost all the deaths are due to age or underlying conditions. Johns Hopkins currently has the rate at 98.2 percent in America. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress that the survival rate is actually 99 percent because asymptomatic cases are under counted. Emhoff seemingly doesn’t care to give the facts to Posadas and put the success of the media stunt at risk. “I’m so grateful you’re doing this in front of the cameras so you can tell everyone it’s okay,” said Emhoff. Posadas nods his head. “Everything – my people – I thinks, we want the shot. This is real. I not believe you before, but I feel it now.”
No reporter asks questions. But the obvious one is: How long ago did Posadas not “believe” Emhoff? Who convinced him to take the vaccine? What was told to him in English or Spanish? Emhoff wastes no time with Posadas’s hesitancy. “Well let’s do it!” said the Second Gentleman while the medical staff and clergy applaud. Posadas is put in a white, folding chair. He keeps on the mirrored sunglasses. A woman in scrubs tells him to pull the mask over his nose. He rolls up his sleeve as the woman comes in with the needle. Posadas looks in the opposite direction. “Look at me! Look at me!” Emhoff tells him, while the shot is administered. The crowd applauds. Emhoff holds out his fist, and Posadas bumps him after he stands.
“Thank you for doing this,” Emhoff says, while Posadas rubs his arm and says something in Spanish. “Thank you for telling everyone to do this.” Emhoff walks away to do media interviews while a woman is heard off camera saying, “Gustava, did you get your card with your vaccination on it?” The Second Gentleman tells reporters that, “On the Covid piece, on the vaccinations, I’m not going to stop. This administration is not going to stop until we continue to get the word out here.” Emhoff continues but seems to not remember Posadas’s name. “You heard what he said – it’s real. He didn’t believe it. He believes it now….” Harris’s husband does a hard sell of the vaccines and adds, “We’re going to go door to door, bring the vaccines out to the people until we get this done.”
Here’s a mashup of VACCINE MISINFORMATION from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
With summer uprisings in Cuba, the communist government has discovered ways to cut the internet off to millions of residents, so organized protesting on social media is near impossible. Let’s take a step back to early last week when reports of the Cuban regime used China-made technology systems to block internet and cell phone service to prevent pictures and videos of what was happening on the ground published online near impossible for the outside world to see. The regime also blocked popular social media channels that would make organized protesting impossible. Remember, a decade ago, during Arab Spring, Facebook and Twitter were critical for organizers to orchestrate uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain.
The Biden administration is finding ways to provide anti-censorship tools to Cubans to access social media during the blackouts. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. government supports a censorship circumvention tool designed to unblock content in Cuba and is powered by a company called Psiphon Inc. As of Thursday, Psiphon tweeted, “1.389 Million daily unique users accessed the open web from Cuba through the Psiphon network. Internet is ON; circumvention tools ARE working.” Psiphon uses proxy servers that disguise internet traffic so Cuban authorities cannot tell if people are accessing social media platforms. The Toronto-based nonprofit has received money from the U.S. government. Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted Saturday that the proxy service is working well:
The Biden administration has been strategizing on other ways to provide the people of Cuba with internet access. “They have cut off access to the internet. We are considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access,” President Biden said on Friday. Biden commented after Florida Governor Ron Desantis told the president the federal government should restore internet on the island located in the northern Caribbean Sea. Desantis said there’s a technology that would allow the U.S. to broadcast internet access into Cuba remotely. “Technology exists to provide Internet access into Cuba remotely, using the innovation of American enterprise and the diverse industries here,” the governor wrote. He said this reminds him of the Cold War when the U.S. funded radio stations to broadcast information into the Soviet Union.
A bunch of tiny islands and a dispute that no-one ever bothered to resolve. But now if the US wants to stand with Japan, it must stand against Taiwan. And the Chinese are thinking: let’s have that fun.
Statements made by Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister about his country’s need to defend Taiwan have raised the specter of a “Japan exception” to China’s no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons. In April this year, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide became the first foreign leader to visit the White House after the swearing in of Joe Biden as America’s 46th President. After private discussions, Yoshihide and Biden issued a joint statement entitled “US-Japan Global Partnership for a New Era.” What made it stand out from similar joint releases over the past decades of US-Japanese relations was the fact that, for the first time in over 50 years, the Japanese and American leaders made mention of Taiwan, declaring “we underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”
While the statement was, on the surface, rather innocuous, the Chinese Embassy in the US immediately reacted, declaring Beijing’s resolute opposition to what it deemed to be interference in China’s internal affairs, and noting that the talks had gone beyond the scope of normal bilateral relations, harming third-party interests and threatening peace and stability in the region. While most observers might think the Chinese objection was centered on its long-standing claim on Taiwan proper, the trigger point was, more likely, the specific reference made in the statement to a tiny cluster of uninhabited rocky islands situated some 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Taiwan and around 400 kilometers (248 miles) due west of Okinawa.
These islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands and in China as the Diaoyu Dao Islands, are located not only in rich fishing waters, but also on top of economically viable underwater oil and gas deposits. While their ownership is a matter of ongoing legal dispute, with China viewing them as constituting part of Taiwan, and Japan as part of the Okinawa prefecture, at the present time the islands are administered by Japan. The US-Japanese joint statement reiterated Washington’s “unwavering support for Japan’s defense under the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear.” It then went on to reaffirm “the fact that Article V of the Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands,” adding that both the US and Japan “oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands.”
Left to its own devices, the Sino-Japanese dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Dao Islands should have remained low-key. But on July 6, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Taro Aso, reportedly stated that “If a major problem took place in Taiwan, it would not be too much to say that it could relate to a survival-threatening situation [for Japan],” citing language which specifically triggers Japan’s Constitutionally-mandated right of collective self-defense, where it would be permitted to deploy its armed forces in support of an ally who had been attacked. A “survival-threatening situation” occurs when an armed attack against a foreign country allied with Japan poses a clear risk of threatening Japan’s survival.
“We need to think hard that Okinawa could be the next,” Aso was quoted as saying, indicating the specific nature of the “survival-threatening situation” he spoke of. While China has never expressed any territorial interest in either Okinawa or the other populated islands contained in the Okinawa prefecture, the fact that Japan views the Senkaku Islands as part of Okinawa, and China views the Diaoyu Dao Islands as part of Taiwan, means that any Chinese move on Taiwan would, as a matter of course, include asserting its claim over the disputed islands. This, in turn, would trigger Article V of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation, which is backed by the nuclear arsenal of the United States.
After Biden administration Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy issued an advisory urging big tech companies to “impose clear consequences for accounts that repeatedly violate platform policies,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki used it to call for big tech companies to crack down harder on social media users with “fact-checks” on “misinformation.” A reporter requested that Psaki expand a bit more on “the request for tech companies to be more aggressive” as regards “misinformation. Has the administration been in touch with any of these companies and are there any actions that the federal government can take to ensure their cooperation, because we’ve seen from the start there’s not a lot of action on some of these platforms.”
“Sure, well first, we are in regular touch with the social media platforms and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team. Given as, Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation specifically on the pandemic,” Psaki said. “In terms of actions… that we have taken or are working to take from the federal government. We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office. We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to connect two connected medical experts who are popular with their audiences with accurate information and boost trusted content.
“So we’re helping get trusted content out there. We also created the COVID Community Corps to get factual information into the hands of local messengers. And we’re also investing in the President’s, the Vice President’s and Dr. Fauci’s time in meeting with influencers who also have large reaches to a lot of these target audiences who can spread and share accurate information. “We saw an example of that yesterday, I believe that video will be out Friday,” Psaki said. “There are also proposed changes that we have made to social media platforms including Facebook, and those specifically four key steps:
“1) That they measure and publicly share the impact of misinformation on their platform. Facebook should provide publicly and transparently data on the reach of COVID-19, COVID vaccine misinformation. Not just engagement, but the reach of the misinformation and the audience that it’s reaching. That will make sure we’re getting accurate information to people. This should be provided not just to researchers but to the public so that public knows and understands what is accurate and inaccurate.
“2) We have recommended, proposed, that they create a robust and enforcement strategy that bridges their properties and provides transparency about the rules. So… there’s about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccination misinformation on social media platforms. All of them remain active on Facebook despite some even being banned on other platforms, including ones that Facebook owns.
“3) It’s important to take faster action against harmful posts. As you all know, information travels quite quickly on social media platforms. Sometimes it’s not accurate, and Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful, violative posts, posts that are within their policies for removal often remain up for days. That’s too long. The information spreads to quickly.
“Finally,” Psaki said, “we have proposed they promote quality information sources in their feed algorithm. Facebook has repeatedly shown that they have the leverage to promote quality information, we’ve seen them effectively do this in their algorithm over low-quality information and they’ve chosen not to use it in this case. That’s certainly an area where we have an impact.” She said that Facebook “certainly understands what our asks are.”
“Fear is not good for us. It’s not good for our immunity, our health or our ability to think rationally. To calm the fear, we need to know that cases are meaningless, deaths are overestimated and immunity – whether natural or vaccine-induced – is long-lasting and can protect us from future variants.”
The WHO flip-flopped on the definition of herd immunity, which is the point at which an infectious disease stops being a cause for concern because most of the population is immune to it. They removed natural immunity from the definition and limited herd immunity to that reached via vaccination only. After this meddling caused an uproar, they went back again and included both forms of immunity as contributing to herd immunity. Furthermore, they changed their recommendations about the PCR test, first allowing very high cycle thresholds of 45 (which is the number of times the genetic material of the virus is multiplied until it is detected) and recommending that cases are diagnosed based on a positive PCR test, regardless of symptoms – previously unheard of in medicine.
Patients are usually diagnosed with a disease if they are sick. Later the WHO rectified their stance, clarifying that the diagnosis of cases requires clinical symptoms and that high cycle thresholds lead to false positives. Why did the WHO make recommendations contrary to established medical practice for infectious diseases? The PCR test was not designed to diagnose infectiousness. It merely detects viral genetic material, dead or alive. Studies indicate that 25 cycles are enough to detect an infectious virus. How much have the false positive results affected the number of cases and in turn the number of deaths? How many deaths were wrongly attributed to COVID instead of other diseases?
Science doesn’t flip-flop like that. Politics does. Science has become politicized. We need to decouple science from politics. It is being manipulated to serve corporate and political agendas. Anyone criticizing ‘The Science’ is silenced harshly. People are smart and if given accurate information they can make the right decisions for themselves and their communities. Unfortunately, people are being misinformed and fear-mongered with non-stop death reports, apparently vanishing immunity and the threat of new variants. Fear is not good for us. It’s not good for our immunity, our health or our ability to think rationally. To calm the fear, we need to know that cases are meaningless, deaths are overestimated and immunity – whether natural or vaccine-induced – is long-lasting and can protect us from future variants.
Variants are not unique to COVID. All respiratory viruses mutate. The variants are so minutely different from each other that our immune system will recognize them and protect us. It’s like your friend wearing a cap. Can you still recognize him? In the same way, your immune system also recognizes the variants. How much longer should we let those variants haunt us?
Spain’s top court has ruled that last year’s strict coronavirus lockdown was unconstitutional. The ruling leaves the door open for people who were fined for breaking the rules to reclaim the money they paid. But the court said it would not accept lawsuits from people and businesses who want to sue the government because they lost money due to the lockdown. The government declared a state of emergency on 14 March 2020 to curb the first wave of Covid-19 infections. At the time, coronavirus cases and deaths were rising and hospitals were quickly becoming overwhelmed. Since then, more than 81,000 people in Spain have died with coronavirus.
Spain has three levels of emergency: state of emergency, state of exception, and the highest level, state of siege. Under the emergency rules almost all people in the country were ordered to stay at home, and were only permitted to leave for essential reasons. All but essential businesses were closed. The laws were in place until June 2020, though some restrictions were reinstated later in the year when the country faced a second wave. But Spain’s Constitutional Court said in a statement that it had voted, by a slim majority of six to five, to find that the state of emergency was not enough to give the restrictions constitutional backing. This is because the rules were equivalent to a suppression of fundamental rights, it said.
There are more than 200 symptoms associated with long Covid spanning 10 organ systems—including memory loss, hallucinations, tremors and fatigue—according to a new study published Thursday, providing one of the most comprehensive insights yet into the lingering and debilitating illness that can affect patients for months or years after infection. Covid long haulers reported a total of 203 different symptoms in the seven months between Dec. 2019 and May 2020, ranging from rashes, peeling skin and digestive issues to muscle spasms, hearing loss and tinnitus, according to research published in the Lancet’s E Clinical Medicine journal.
The study, based on surveys from nearly 4,000 people from 56 countries, identified fatigue, brain fog and post-exertional malaise (where symptoms worsen after physical or mental effort) as the most common symptoms. On average, patients suffered from 56 different symptoms and those still suffering after six months—nearly two-thirds of participants taking the survey—were still experiencing an average of 14 symptoms. Almost half (45%) of the study’s participants reported needing a reduced work schedule on account of their illness and around one-fifth (22%) were unable to work at all. Dr. Athena Akrami, a neuroscientist at University College London and senior author of the study, said it highlights “a clear need to widen medical guidelines” to assess a wider range of symptoms than respiratory and cardiovascular issues for long Covid.”
The efficacy of a drug being promoted by rightwing figures worldwide for treating Covid-19 is in serious doubt after a major study suggesting the treatment is effective against the virus was withdrawn due to “ethical concerns”. The preprint study on the efficacy and safety of ivermectin – a drug used against parasites such as worms and headlice – in treating Covid-19, led by Dr Ahmed Elgazzar from Benha University in Egypt, was published on the Research Square website in November. It claimed to be a randomised control trial, a type of study crucial in medicine because it is considered to provide the most reliable evidence on the effectiveness of interventions due to the minimal risk of confounding factors influencing the results. Elgazzar is listed as chief editor of the Benha Medical Journal, and is an editorial board member.
The study found that patients with Covid-19 treated in hospital who “received ivermectin early reported substantial recovery” and that there was “a substantial improvement and reduction in mortality rate in ivermectin treated groups” by 90%. But the drug’s promise as a treatment for the virus is in serious doubt after the Elgazzar study was pulled from the Research Square website on Thursday “due to ethical concerns”. Research Square did not outline what those concerns were. A medical student in London, Jack Lawrence, was among the first to identify serious concerns about the paper, leading to the retraction. He first became aware of the Elgazzar preprint when it was assigned to him by one of his lecturers for an assignment that formed part of his master’s degree. He found the introduction section of the paper appeared to have been almost entirely plagiarised.
It appeared that the authors had run entire paragraphs from press releases and websites about ivermectin and Covid-19 through a thesaurus to change key words. “Humorously, this led to them changing ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome’ to ‘extreme intense respiratory syndrome’ on one occasion,” Lawrence said. The data also looked suspicious to Lawrence, with the raw data apparently contradicting the study protocol on several occasions.
The country’s top military officer was so convinced that then-President Donald Trump would attempt a coup after his election loss to Joe Biden that he and other senior generals made plans to stop him, according to a new book. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his deputies reportedly pledged to resign en masse if they were given an order by Trump that was illegal or unconstitutional. ‘They may try, but they’re not going to f***ing succeed,’ Milley told his deputies. ‘You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. ‘We’re the guys with the guns.’ The dramatic quote excerpted by CNN was revealed in a new book authored by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig titled I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year. The book is scheduled for release next week.
Days before the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, Milley warned confidantes of a ‘Reichstag moment’ facing the country. According to the book, his concern stemmed from the fact that Trump was preaching ‘the gospel of the Führer.’ Milly referred to Trump supporters at a march to protest the election as ‘brownshirts in the streets.’ In 1933, after Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany, the Nazis used a fire at the Reichstag building, home to Germany’s parliament, as a pretext to suspend civil liberties and consolidate power by claiming the country was under threat from communists. The brownshirts were Nazi paramilitaries who helped Hitler rise to power. ‘Milley told his staff that he believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military,’ Rucker and Leonnig write.
The joint chiefs chairman was especially worried by the fact that Trump purged the Defense Department of those who raised objections to his ideas and replaced them with loyalists after the November election. Days after the election, Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and replaced him with Christopher Miller. Other deputies to Esper were also fired and replaced with those who shared the then-president’s views. In December, Attorney General William Barr resigned after he refused to endorse Trump’s claims of rampant voter fraud. The departures of Barr and Esper left Milley concerned, according to the book. Milley reportedly told friends that he felt he needed to be ‘on guard’ in anticipation of what might happen.
Luke Harding was one of the people at the Guardian working with Julian Assange on releases of WikiLeaks files back in 2009/10. He wanted to write Assange’s biography, but Julian declined. Then the revenge started. First, Harding and David Leigh published a secret password in a book, then a preposterous lying story of Paul Manafort visiting the Ecuador embassy multiple times followed, which conveniently combined anti-Assange with anti-Trump, and now there’s more hollow filth.
Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents. The key meeting took place on 22 January 2016, the papers suggest, with the Russian president, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present. They agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position.
Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature. By this point Trump was the frontrunner in the Republican party’s nomination race. A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use “all possible force” to ensure a Trump victory. Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin. The Guardian has shown the documents to independent experts who say they appear to be genuine. Incidental details come across as accurate. The overall tone and thrust is said to be consistent with Kremlin security thinking.
Moscow has reacted furiously to a series of claims, backed up with anonymous and unverifiable sources, that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his security officials to support Donald Trump’s campaign to become US president. In comments made exclusively to RT on Thursday evening, Putin’s spokesman slammed the report, published in the UK’s Guardian newspaper earlier that day. “This is total fiction,” Dmitry Peskov remarked. “Strictly speaking, it is complete nonsense. Of course, this is the hallmark of an absolutely low-quality publication. Either the newspaper is trying to somehow increase its popularity or is sticking to a rabidly Russophobic line.”
The article, authored by British journalist Luke Harding and two other staffers at the outlet, claimed that Putin had “Personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election, during a closed session of Russia’s national security council.” The bombshell revelations were purportedly based on “what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents.” Harding has a history of publishing false stories related to the so-called “Russiagate” conspiracy theory, which became popular after Trump was elected to America’s highest office. In 2018, for instance, he published a completely fake tale about dissident publisher Julian Assange and the American lobbyist Paul Manafort supposedly having met in London.
The article was also based on anonymous ‘sources.’ Although the allegation has been thoroughly debunked, the Guardian has refused to correct the record. While working in Moscow in 2007, Harding was accused of plagiarism by The Exile, a small, independent and now defunct magazine. His employer issued an apology at the time.
Wide-scale protests and rioting that have rocked the Caribbean nation of Cuba are, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, part of an orchestrated campaign by American officials to oust the country’s socialist government. In a statement issued on Thursday, one of Moscow’s top diplomatic representatives, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, blasted American “impudence” for suggesting that the demonstrations were a result of the Cuban government’s own mistakes. Instead, she described the approach a part of “yet another political staging.” “Washington’s cynicism is shown by the fact that throughout the entire period of the existence of revolutionary Cuba, it purposefully pursued a strategy of strangling the country, discriminating against its people and destroying the economy,” she went on.
“Their thinking here is simple – it has already been repeatedly deployed by Washington in different situations. But in every case, there is the same goal – sparking ‘color revolutions’ in response to unwanted regimes.” The approach, the official added, hinges on applying sanctions and provoking tensions by worsening the socio-economic situation in the country. Zakharova said that the idea authorities in Havana alone were to blame for fomenting discontent was patently false. “Despite all the measures taken by the central Cuban authorities to support the country’s economy and provide assistance to the population, it is they who are accused by Washington of the current crisis situation,” she said. “At the same time, the Americans, as always, keep silent about their own subversive actions and opportunistic aspirations.”
She went on to compare the incident to scenes in Washington in January, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump forced their way into the seat of government in protest of his election defeat. “Where were their concerns about humanitarian values, political pluralism and democratic freedoms,” she asked, “when those who stormed the Capitol… were detained across America, accused of ‘domestic terrorism’ and are now facing criminal charges?” Earlier this week, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the circumstances that led to tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets were down to the “actions and inactions, mismanagement, corruption of the Cuban regime” and not because of “anything the United States has done.” “We are always considering options available to us that would allow us to support the Cuban people, to support their humanitarian needs, which are indeed profound,” Price told reporters.
Illinois has become the first state to ban law enforcement officers from lying to juveniles during interrogations. The law was part of a package of criminal justice reform measures put forth by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Thursday. Senate Bill 2122, which prohibits the use of deceptive tactics by all law enforcement when interrogating a minor, takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022. “It is time that we move towards a new era of public safety,” said state Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Public safety for all, public safety by the people, public safety that belongs to us.” Also attending the bill signing was Terrell Swift, one of the so-called “Englewood Four.” Swift served 15 years in prison for rape and murder before he was released in 2012 after it was ruled that his confession as a 17-year-old was coerced by Chicago police.
That confession led to his conviction despite no evidence tying him to the crime, and the city eventually paid Swift $7 million in a settlement after his release. “This bill, I truly believe, could have saved my life,” Swift said. Along with SB 2122, Pritzker signed three other bills: Senate Bill 64, which encourages the use of restorative justice practices by making statements during these practices privileged.Senate Bill 2129, which allows the State’s Attorney of a county in which a defendant was sentenced to petition for re-sentencing of the offender if the original sentence no long advances the interests of justice. Senate Bill 3587, which creates the Re-sentencing Task Force Act to study ways to reduce the state’s prison population through re-sentencing motions.
In February, Pritzker signed a criminal justice reform plan which eliminates cash bail within two years, makes it easier to decertify police officers by eliminating signed affidavits of complaint, and mandates the use of police body cameras for all officers by 2025. Law enforcement officials statewide condemned the reform plan as hindering police from preventing crime, ultimately emboldening criminals and threatening police officers.
Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa sent a letter to the Justice Department Wednesday asking for more information regarding missing phones used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team during the Russian collusion investigation. The senators sent the letter after finding out the Justice Department “could not locate 59 of the 96 phones used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team,” according to Grassley’s website. The two senators wrote to the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General in September 2020 regarding allegations that cell phones assigned to “multiple people on then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team were ‘wiped’ for various reasons during [the Russia investigation].”
In a response on May 11, 2021, the OIG reported that 59 of the 96 phones assigned the Special Counsel’s Office were unaccounted for. That report showed that in June 2019, the DOJ took possession of 79 of 96 phones that belonged to members of Muller’s team to be reviewed for official records. The records included notes and text messages, which were then sent to DOJ or FBI email systems for preservation. However, not all the phones were subject to record preservation. The two lawmakers are now following up with requests for further information including:
• the names of SCO employees whose cell phones were not reviewed for official records
• what, if any, actions are being taken by the DOJ to recover the 59 phones the department has been unable to locate
• whether the DOJ reviewed the phones to ascertain “whether they were used to leak sensitive or classified information.”
Bill Clinton took two trips with Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein – including one on the pedophile’s private jet – that have not been previously disclosed. A new podcast reveals that the former President flew on Epstein’s jet, which was dubbed the ‘Lolita Express’, in February 2005 while visiting Japan, Taiwan and China. Clinton also flew on a private jet owned by billionaire Ron Burkle with Maxwell as a passenger during a trip to India in November 2003. That visit was part of Clinton’s work with the Clinton Foundation, his philanthropic initiative, to lower the cost of AIDS drugs. According to journalist Vicky Ward, Maxwell was part of the official Clinton party and even stayed at the same hotel as him. Ward reveals the details in her new podcast ‘Chasing Ghislaine’, which is available from Thursday on Audible Originals.
The podcast claims that Maxwell used Clinton for her ‘escape’ from Epstein in the 2000s when her relationship with the financier was cooling. Maxwell was considered by Clinton’s personal staff to be ‘just as important’ as Epstein for raising money for the Clinton Foundation and was the ‘go-to person’ when it came to asking for donations from the pedophile. The claims put new focus on the friendship between the former President and Epstein, who hanged himself in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. Flight logs showed that Clinton took at least 26 trips aboard the ‘Lolita Express’ — even apparently ditching his Secret Service detail for at least five of the flights between 2001 and 2003. The period where Epstein and Clinton were closest – the early 2000s – coincides with the period that Epstein was charged with running a sex trafficking ring.
Clinton has always denied any involvement in any criminality and has claimed that has never visited Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean as some reports have suggested. But the connections between the two appear to have been strong and there were financial as well as social links lasting many years. Maxwell is currently awaiting a November trial for allegedly procuring and trafficking underage girls for Epstein, charges she denies. Ward has reported on the Epstein case for nearly two decades, first for Vanity Fair and now in her role as a CNN journalist. She wrote a profile of Epstein for Vanity Fair in 2003 but the details of his alleged abuse of two young sisters was left out after Epstein contacted her editor, Graydon Carter, she claims.
According to ‘Chasing Ghislaine’, during the 2000s Maxwell was trying to escape the ‘sick partnership’ she had built with Epstein, who she dated during the early 1990s and allegedly abused underage girls with. In the podcast, Ward says: ‘Ghislaine used former President Bill Clinton for her escape. ‘Remember, Clinton’s post-presidency was an exciting, very attractive place to be. He and an entourage went on fascinating trips to Europe, to Asia, to Africa and he met with extremely interesting people. ‘Now, records I’ve seen recently show that in 2003, Ghislaine visited the Taj Mahal with Bill Clinton and a group of around 20 others. This trip has not previously been reported. Jeffrey wasn’t on it. And that was key in cementing Ghislaine’s rise as a VIP in her own right in Clinton World, according to sources close to Bill Clinton’.
U.S. Capitol Police will start using Army surveillance equipment to monitor Americans as part of a larger effort to improve security and turn the force into “an intelligence-based protective agency” in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Last week, the USCP took possession of eight Persistent Surveillance Systems Ground – Medium (PSSG-M) units, fulfilling a request that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved on June 2. The units capture high-definition video and include night vision, but do not feature facial recognition capabilities. “This technology will be integrated with existing USCP camera infrastructure, providing greater high definition surveillance capacity to meet steady-state mission requirements and help identify emerging threats,” the Pentagon said.
The same technology was used by troops during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to observe large areas day and night. The Army will install the units and train Capitol Police on how to operate the systems, the Pentagon said. In a statement last week, the USCP called the technology “state-of-the-art campus surveillance technology, which will enhance the ability to detect and monitor threat activity.” The Capitol Police did not provide further details regarding how or where the surveillance equipment would be used, and didn’t provide information on whether data collected would be stored or distributed. These latest efforts by the Capitol Police have raised some concerns relating to Americans’ privacy rights.
Last month, a federal appeals court found similar surveillance technology used by the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) violated the constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. A New York University School of Law independent audit of the systems used by the BPD found the technology allowed the department to track individuals for multiple days. William Owen, a member of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said the Capitol Police’s new technology is cause for concern. “These so-called improvements that the Capitol Police have implemented after the insurrection represent an expansion of police power and surveillance that STOP cautioned against in January,” he said, according to The Washington Times.
By some inexplicable phenomenon, Sydney’s COVID outbreak has continued to worsen (albeit by margins that most cities would consider negligible) despite the lockdown measures that have been in place for nearly three weeks at this point. Now, the prospect for another lockdown extension looms as Australia’s largest city and the surrounding state – New South Wales, Australia’s largest by population – reports 112 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, almost all of which were linked to Sydney. However, there was a silver lining: the number of newly infected out in the community declined to 34 from 45. But fears about the delta variant, which has been driving the spread, might lead to even more draconian measures.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was this last figure that would, in the coming days, determine whether Sydney’s lockdown, due to end on Friday, would be extended. “That’s the number we need to get as close to zero as possible,” Berejiklian said during her daily televised briefing. “It is really up to us. The health expert advice will be based on what those numbers look like. I can’t be clearer than that.” Sydney is bracing for a longer and stricter lockdown after continued increases in COVID-19 cases, while the New South Wales Premier stated things are going to get worse before they get better. The outbreak has prompted the Australia-Singapore travel bubble to be delayed until at least the end of the year, according to Australian press reports, despite the fact that nearly all of the new cases reported on Monday involved family members or friends of previously diagnosed patients.
Meanwhile, a new report from Deloitte showed that consumer movement-related activity in the city’s central business district has plunged by nearly 90% in the two weeks since the Sydney lockdown started compared to its levels from two years ago. Even in Melbourne, where restrictions were just lifted, movement remained off 80% from the levels a year ago. The drop in activity is placing small businesses and restaurants in a difficult position. The iconic Melbourne rooftop bar Madame Brussels announced Monday that it would become the latest victim of the pandemic when it closes its doors next week after 15 years. “The city’s just not coming back,” co-owner Paula Scholes said.
The nation’s highest-paid employee in the US government, Anthony Fauci, has gone full-throttle on vaccines – this time with a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where he pushed for vaccine mandates at the local level, and slammed a guest speaker at CPAC (Alex Berenson) for applauding young people for researching vaccine side-effects. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director appeared on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday to give his opinion on vaccine mandates. He agrees with the White House and President Biden himself, saying vaccination mandates should be the next step. “I have been of this opinion, and I remain of that opinion, that I do believe at the local level, Jake, there should be more mandates,” Fauci told host Jake Tapper. “There really should be.”
For fear of more people dying, Fauci strongly supports mandates. “We’re talking about life and death situation. We have lost 600,000 Americans already, and we’re still losing more people,” Fauci said. “There have been 4 million deaths worldwide. This is serious business. So I am in favor of that.” Meanwhile, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, author Alex Berenson called out the vaccination efforts as a scam. “The government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90% of the population into getting vaccinated,” Berenson said. “And it isn’t happening.” People in the audience cheered when they heard that. On the other hand, Fauci called the reaction “horrifying.”
As a result, the NIAID director says the solution to vaccine hesitancy is official approval from the Food and Drug Administration. “One of the things that will happen, and I think the hesitancy at the local level of doing mandates is because the vaccines have not been officially fully approved,” Fauci said. “But people need to understand that the amount of data right now that shows a high degree of effectiveness and a high degree of safety is more than we’ve ever seen with the emergency use authorization, so these vaccines are as good as officially approved with all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. It hasn’t been done yet because the FDA has to do certain things. But it’s as good as done. So people should really understand that. But they are waiting now until you get an official approval before. And I think when you do see the official approval, you’ll see a lot more mandates.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Monday defended the Biden administration’s door-to-door vaccine effort as some Republican governors push back on it, stressing targeted, one-on-one outreach would be key to lowering the number of unvaccinated Americans. Speaking to CBS This Morning, Fauci said the U.S. vaccination effort was in the beginning focused on “large efforts like auditoriums or sports arenas filled with people getting vaccinated” but now needed to become more targeted. “You’ve got to go one on one” to reach the “core, lesser group” of unvaccinated Americans, Fauci said. Last week, President Joe Biden announced his administration will begin sending volunteers door-to-door to urge Americans to get immunized, along with other initiatives.
The announcement came after the U.S. fell just short of Biden’s goal of partially or fully vaccinating at least 70% of adults by July 4. Health experts have expressed concern that Biden is not doing enough to convince more Americans to get the shot as vaccination rates remain low and the more infectious Delta variant begins to spread in the U.S. “Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,” Biden said in a speech on Tuesday. [..] 55.5%. That’s the percentage of Americans who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. About half of unvaccinated Americans—46%—said they would “definitely not” ever get the vaccine in a recent AP/NORC poll. Just 7% said they “definitely will” get a shot.
Why do you think you get told to go ahead and eat the carbs — chase it with drugs if you’re Type II diabetic? The zero cost option is to stop eating the carbs. If you do it early enough then there’s a good chance your body will heal and the damage will not only stop, it will be reversed. No, this doesn’t mean you can go back to eating the pizzas with wild abandon, but it does mean you’ll never need a single blood-sugar related drug, nor will your toes and fingers drop off and your kidneys will likely not fail. The problem is that if you let your doctor talk you into doing it his way for long enough the damage will be irreversible and then you’re beholden to ever-more expensive drugs and, ultimately, likely surgeries and even dialysis. If you walk that path you may or may not expire from something else first but you certainly will spend a hell of a lot of money on the journey with virtually all of it being unnecessary.
What makes you think that’s not what they just did under cover of a respiratory pandemic that was destined to burn itself out like every other respiratory viral pandemic for which we have good records spanning more than 100 years, and in fact which had done so in the United States and was on the wane before the first shot went into the first arm? What if your life and that of your children are now a service, courtesy of Moderna and Pfizer at whatever cost they wish to impose on you now and into the indefinite future with the price of quitting being a much-higher risk of death, and what if that is in fact exactly what pharma, the medical industry, Trump and Biden all had in mind originally and still do? Think I’m wrong? Have a look at the 2018 MTS and what happened to Medicare payments.
This fiscal ended in September of 2018, the second year of Trump’s Presidency. Prescription drug spend was down from 95 billion to $82 billion, a decrease of close to 15%. Hospital spend was nearly flat – up right at 1%. Do you think Pharma and hospital administrators liked that? The next year drug spend was up 3.6% and then ending in September of 2020 it was up 5.3%. Hospitalization? That posted a 26% increase year ending September 2020 with hospitals being paid $39,000 per person by Medicare to shove a tube down your throat and kill you instead of being paid to give you drugs early with them only getting paid when you didn’t get intubated and die. In other words health care as a service which in fact paid more to kill Seniors was good for a 26% increase in what the federal government spent despite killing a half-million people with the vast majority of them being Senior Citizens on Medicare.
We didn’t pay for performance we paid for a subscription even though what it bought sucked and in fact killed your Grandmother. Do you think that’s stopped? Well then you better look at the current MTS which says that while hospitalization spend is down (gee, all the old people who could be easily killed seem to already be dead and we ran out of suckers we could exploit by sticking a toe tag on them) when it comes to prescription drugs the current year spend via said subscription model scam is up 12.4% over last year thus far on a comparable-period basis! Don’t you think we should have proved that wasn’t the model being intended for these shots to be forced on EVERYONE before we started letting people get stabbed when the data before us, on October 15st of 2020, was that indeed that was exactly the model the health care system had run for the previous fiscal year into the maw of the pandemic and got paid to deliberately not treat people early which both led to their death and got them paid a record amount, an utterly obscene additional EIGHTY TWO BILLION DOLLARS above the previous year’s expense?
You better hope that’s not what they tricked you into because if it is you’re screwed at least economically and may be ****ed out of your life. I remind you that the MTS proves that is exactly what they did to Seniors when it came to medical care just during the first six months of the pandemic to the tune of $82 BILLION which was in fact paid out as a reward for generating 500,000 CORPSES. But you still won’t make them stop — will you?
I reported last week on the striking fact that, according to data from the ZOE Covid Symptom study, new symptomatic daily infections appeared to be plateauing in the unvaccinated while they were surging in the vaccinated. The trend has continued since then, with infections now entering decline in the unvaccinated while those in the vaccinated (with at least one dose) continue to surge (see graph). Around 67% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, so the fact that there are still more infections in the smaller unvaccinated group means no conclusion can be drawn from the current figures about the vaccines not being effective.
Also, while more people are being vaccinated all the time, that steady trend is nowhere near large enough to account for the sharp changes in infection incidence we see here. With infections in the unvaccinated already peaking and falling, despite the Delta variant, this drives a coach and horses through arguments for the supposed importance of vaccinating children and hesitant young people – including through inducements like vaccine passports for pubs, clubs and restaurants, now being mooted for the autumn. Why the vaccinated are having their Delta surge later than the unvaccinated is an interesting question. Is it because the vaccines make them more resistant to infection? Does the age difference help explain it? Or is it something else?
Whatever the explanation, the important point is that without any new restrictions or a big new vaccine push, infections in the unvaccinated are already falling. In the current climate of pushes to extend restrictions, delay ‘Freedom Day’, and vaccinate everyone whether they want it or not, this is hugely significant. It means all those arguments to continue restrictions and pile on the pressure for vaccination because of the Delta variant are complete nonsense. That new daily infections are still rising in the population as a whole is now because they are rising among the vaccinated, not the unvaccinated. They will likely peak soon in the vaccinated, too, just as they already have in Scotland.
A bunch of readers sent me a video on the Odysee platform that seems to have lit up the Internet over the weekend, a conversation between the international lawyer Reiner Fuellmich and a character named David Martin, PhD, CEO of M-Cam, a company that researches and advises on intellectual property and patents, especially in medicine. Dr. Martin is “a fellow” at the University of Virginia School of Business Administration and formerly an assistant professor at UVa’s School of Medicine. Mr. Fuellmich is a German national who claims to be bringing a case to the world court to prosecute various parties for hoaxing the world over the coronavirus we call Covid-19.
Mr. Fuellmich’s claim is based on the allegation that the world has been played by “a PCR test pandemic,” not by a novel coronavirus, saying that the PCR test is entirely unreliable, but was used to generate millions of “cases.” Dr. Martin claims that scores of patents were filed as far back as 2008 on features found in Covid 19 — the spike protein, the polybasic cleavage site, and the ace-2 receptor binding domain — by people doing “bioweapons” research at the University of North Carolina (e.g., Dr. Ralph Baric) as well as the US Military’s DARPA, the Wuhan, China, virology lab, and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), much of it intermediated by Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, and allegedly involving a criminal conspiracy with several pharmaceutical companies to make a lot of money off an engineered global health emergency. He claims further that the mRNA vaccines are “medical devices” designed to induce illness.
This complex story has its charms (Fuellmich & Martin are very good talkers) and has undergone serial debunkings by some of the usual debunkers, themselves not necessarily reliable organs of debunkery, such as The Washington Post. Dr. Martin appears to be associated with the “Plandemic” crowd and with some marginal crypto-religious groups inveighing against Jewish conspiracies and freemasonry — two big red flags for me.
But we live in a time when reality is exceptionally slippery and there are parts of the story that are now accepted as real in the emergent consensual reality of what actually happened. For instance: that Dr. Anthony Fauci funded gain-of-function research using Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance as a conduit. And the numerous patent records do exist within the stated time-line. The scientific and legal facts around all this are abstruse, and most college-educated (and beyond) Americans might have trouble processing the story.
Cubans facing the country’s worst economic crisis in decades took to the streets over the weekend. In turn, authorities blocked social media sites in an apparent effort to stop the flow of information into, out of and within the beleaguered nation. Restricting internet access has become a tried-and-true method of stifling dissent by authoritarian regimes around the world, alongside government-supported disinformation campaigns and propaganda. On the extreme side, regimes like China and North Korea exert tight control over what regular citizens can access online. Elsewhere, service blockages are more limited, often cutting off common social platforms around elections and times of mass protests.
There was no formal organizer of Sunday’s protests; people found out about the rallying points over social media, mostly on Twitter and Facebook, the platforms most used by Cubans. The thousands of Cubans who took to the streets — protesters and pro-government activists alike — wielded smartphones to capture images and send them to relatives and friends or post them online. On Monday, Cuban authorities were blocking Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Telegram, said Alp Toker, director of Netblocks, a London-based internet monitoring firm. “This does seem to be a response to social media-fueled protest,” he said. Twitter did not appear to be blocked, though Toker noted Cuba could cut it off if it wants to.
While the recent easing of access by Cuban authorities to the internet has increased social media activity, Toker said, the level of censorship has also risen. Not only does the cutoff block out external voices, he said, it also squelches “the internal voice of the population who have wanted to speak out.” Internet access in Cuba has been expensive and relatively rare until recently. The country was “basically offline” until 2008, then gradually entered a digital revolution, said Ted Henken, a Latin America expert at Baruch College, City University of New York. The biggest change, he noted, came in December 2018 when Cubans got access to mobile internet for the first time via data plans purchased from the state telecom monopoly. These days, more than half of all Cubans have internet access, Henken said.
The White House sent a memo to state and local officials Monday, urging them to use some of the COVD-19 relief funds to help combat the rise of violent crime. The memo outlines how states should use the funds provided by President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to reduce crime, such as supporting law enforcement, investing in community-based violence interventions, and enforcing gun laws. “The core of the President’s plan is a partnership with cities and states, equipping local leaders with historic levels of federal funding and a range of tools to address the multifaceted challenge of gun violence,” the memo said, according to The Hill.
The memo also notes that Biden requested $300 million in funding for the COPS program, a program made by the Department of Justice for community-centered policing, and an additional $750 million for federal law enforcement agencies. Biden is expected to meet with Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams – who is also the Democrat nominee for New York City mayor – as well as with other mayors across the country.
In JPMorgan’s latest weekly bitcoin hit piece (because for some “inexplicable” reason, JPMorgan executive have instructed most of the bank’s strategists, including those covering equity and rates, to slam the cryptocurrency on a weekly if not daily basis while the bank quietly builds out its own proprietary crypto fund, almost as if it is desperate to scare its clients into selling), the bank makes an interesting argument: bitcoin is not liquid enough to be successfully implemented as a legal tender in El Salvador.
We won’t speak to the validity of JPM’s argument – we will soon find out first hand whether or not El Salvador made a mistake in adopting bitcoin as legal tender – although it certainly is simple enough: “daily payment activity in El Salvador would represent ~4% of recent on-chain transaction volume and more than 1% of the total value of tokens which have been transferred between wallets in the past year,” the report said, with the illiquidity and nature of the volume “potentially a significant limitation on its potential as a medium of exchange.”
Perhaps, then again in its brief history bitcoin has certainly demonstrated that it is remarkably scalable and viable even without a central bank propping it up every time there is even a modest risk-flaring hiccup, which is much more than we could ever say about the global stock market or currencies such as Europe’s “whatever it takes” euro. Of course, JPMorgan – a bank that directly benefited form more than one multibilion bailout – will be the last to admit just how much sustainable the cryptocurrency has become, which is why we will ignore the bank’s latest round of propaganda, but will point out an interesting fact unearthed by JPMorgan: it goes straight to the heart of the recurring argument why bitcoin is so volatile.
The reason, as JPM has discovered, is that bitcoin’s float may be as little as 5%, if not less. Discussing the daily trading volumes of bitcoin, JPM notes that a large fraction of Bitcoin are locked up in illiquid entities (liquidity sinks), “with more than 90% not changing hands in more than a year” while roughly 80% – and rising – are held by wallets with light turnover. This means that a paltry 5-10% of all bitcoin in circulation has traded in the past year. Another way of putting it: an asset with a $600 billion market cap has a float of just $30 billion. Which is remarkable as it means that no whales sold bitcoin when it hit its all time high of $65,000. And if they didn’t sell then, they certainly won’t sell now when it’s half that price.
Following last week’s announcement that President Trump was filing a class-action lawsuit suing the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google over allegations of illegal censorship, Trump has published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where he lays out his legal team’s argument: Big Tech has colluded with government to censor the free speech of the American people, Trump said. Since social media has become “as central to free speech as town meeting halls, newspapers and television networks were in prior generations.” Despite the fact that the internet is “the new public square”, Big Tech has become increasingly “brazen and shameless in censoring and discriminating against ideas, information and people on social media – banning users, deplatforming organizations, and aggressively blocking the free flow of information on which our democracy depends.”
“No longer are Big Tech giants simply removing specific threats of violence. They are manipulating and controlling the political debate itself.” Trump also cited Big Tech’s decision to bar him from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. “Perhaps most egregious, in the weeks after the election, Big Tech blocked the social-media accounts of the sitting president. If they can do it to me, they can do it to you—and believe me, they are.” While Chinese and Iranian propagandists are allowed to operate with impunity, social media platforms have attacked a Michigan schoolteacher for sharing an article questioning whether mandatory masks are suitable for young children in schools. A Florida couple that lost their 21-year-old son in a fatal car accident caused by a 2x-deported illegal immigrant was censored by Facebook when they posted about border security and immigration enforcement, Trump said.
These regular people will appear as plaintiffs alongside Trump and his America First Policy Institute, which is co-sponsoring the litigation. Worst of all, when Democrats in Congress demand that big tech CEOs “fact check” what they insist are “false” stories, Trump says that these “disinformation” labels are supplied by partisan fact-checkers loyal to the Democratic Party. This is tantamount to “suppression of speech that those in power do not like.” “Through these lawsuits, I intend to restore free speech for all Americans—Democrats, Republicans and independents. I will never stop fighting to defend the constitutional rights and sacred liberties of the American people.” Finally, Trump cited the Trusted News Initiative, a program whereby Twitter, Facebook and Google all take orders from the CDC about which information to combat.
Former President Donald Trump discussed his class-action lawsuit against Big Tech censorship on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” saying he believes it will be “very successful.” Trump said the lawsuit will “wind its way through the courts, I think it’s gonna be very successful … It’s been very well received, very popular, a lot of legal scholars are saying it’s about time.” The lawsuit was filed against the CEO’s of Google, Facebook, and Twitter, alleging that censorship is a violation of the First Amendment and applies to private companies because they are working for government officials. Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act allows websites to remove obscene content. Trump is arguing that this immunity is like a government subsidy.
“They’re getting the biggest subsidy that any company has ever gotten from a government,” Trump explained. “They’re immune from so many different things, but they’re not immune from this lawsuit because what they’ve done is such a violation of the Constitution. A violation like we’ve never seen before.” “They work with the Democrats,” he added. “It’s a Democrat machine; it should be a campaign contribution.” Because YouTube, Facebook, and Google suspended his accounts on their platforms, Trump said that it “hurts his ability to support fellow conservatives by campaigning for Republicans running in 2022. He also said it hurts his ability to lay the groundwork for a possible 2024 presidential bid,” Fox News reported.
In a speech to fans in Texas, Donald Trump repeated claims of election fraud and tirades against “cancel culture.” He also uttered one phrase his opponents would likely agree with, saying he “became worse” after being impeached. Trump took the stage in Dallas, Texas on Sunday night to close out the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a yearly or twice-yearly gathering of politicians, activists and celebrities from the American right. The CPAC crowd is as friendly to Trump as crowds get, and the former president served them up his signature partisan jokes, rants and one-liners. He railed against President Joe Biden and the Democrats, whom he accused of “rigging” the 2020 election against him. The audience agreed, breaking into chants of “Trump won!”
He thundered against immigration, accusing Biden of turning the US/Mexico border into “the single greatest disaster in American history” and lambasted “big tech’s attack on free speech,” days after suing the social media platforms that banned him in January. All of these complaints and grievances are standard Trump fare, but the receptive crowd at CPAC gave him the opportunity to try out some new material. Turning on his former attorney general, Trump claimed that Bill Barr “became a different man” after House Democrats “viciously stated that they wanted to impeach him” last year. “I didn’t become different,” Trump quipped. “I got impeached twice. I became worse.” His opponents would likely agree with that statement, but “worse” to his supporters clearly meant “better,” as they broke out into applause and cheers.
Trump’s headline appearance, and the warm reception he received, served as a reminder that although he is out of power and absent from social media, he still sets the Republican Party’s agenda. His former vice president, Mike Pence, who voted to certify Biden’s electoral victory, did not appear at the event and was booed and heckled at a conservative conference in Florida several weeks ago. CPAC is considered an opportunity for potential Republican presidential candidates to audition in front of the conservative base, and Trump – who has dropped several hints recently at another run for the White House in 2024 – seemed to acknowledge this. “The Democrats want me out… and here I am. I could have a nice, beautiful life and here I am on a Sunday in Texas,” he said, to which the crowd chanted “Four more years! Four more years!”
Joe Biden is planning to propose the first substantial federal tax hike since 1993 for Americans to help pay for his long-term economic program after he signed the largest stimulus package in U.S. history with a price tag of $1.9 trillion. Four people familiar with discussion told Bloomberg that Biden is expected to propose a series of tax increases, including repealing parts of Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law that resulted in most Americans seeing more in their paychecks, to help fund the latest proposal. Trump’s tax cuts led to most Americans receiving more take home pay and resulted in an average increase of $90 in tax returns from 2017 to 2018. With the former president’s income tax cuts, Americans immediately saw somewhere between a 0.4 per cent and 2.9 per cent increase in their paychecks after taxes.
Now the White House is preparing to roll out another sweeping plan to tackle infrastructure and the economic crisis, which some say could fall somewhere between the $2-$4 trillion mark. Biden plans to kick off his cross-country tour this week promoting and seeking to bolster enthusiasm for the coronavirus relief package, where the White House will also ensure he receives credit for benefits included in the bill. First lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and first gentlemen Doug Emhoff will also hit the road this week to promote the sweeping legislation. Next on the president’s docket is getting another pricey funding bill through Congress that addresses infrastructure, climate and education.
Republicans are more than likely to pounce on the plan, painting Democrats as the Party of higher taxes. The tax hike could also blow any chances of lawmakers reaching a bipartisan deal on infrastructure – something Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says is unacceptable and that he will likely block. With a narrow majority in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrats must craft the proposal in a way that gains support from nearly every lawmaker in their caucus. White House officials are now facing a conundrum on how much of the bill should be paid for with tax hikes and what parts should be financed with even more federal borrowing.
Meanwhile, up in Minneapolis, where jury selection is underway in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, the City Council approved 13-to-0 a $27-million wrongful death civil settlement to Mr. Floyd’s family. Say, what…? The way it’s supposed to work is that a civil case for wrongful death follows the criminal trial — for how would you know what’s rightful or wrongful in a matter before the facts in the case have been adjudicated? Sounds like Hennepin County, MN, may not be the right venue for these proceedings.
Should Mr. Chauvin face a jury that will likely have heard news reports that the city council already decided the verdict, and in the most imprecise terms possible? “Mr. Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck,” Floyd family Attorney Ben Crump said when the suit was filed. Systemic racism, you see. Following the George Floyd riots last year, the Minneapolis City Council announced its plan to defund the police. In February 2021, the council announced the release of $6.4-million to hire more police, following a dramatic uptick in crime. Such are the strange inconsistencies of life under the crypto-Jacobin revolution in America today.
Speaking of Joe Biden, alleged to be president, he was oddly absent altogether on the front page of Monday’s New York Times, leading the curious to wonder if last Tuesday night’s Coronavirus Action speech drained his dwindling mojo for the rest of the month. The curious might also seek to know why Mr. Biden’s “team” is still so wound up about eradicating Coronavirus, yet eager to let tens of thousands cross the border illegally from Mexico, many of them live vectors of the virus, who are then bussed all over the USA under the revived “catch-and-release” policy. Mr. Biden’s “honeymoon” period is about over. The country had not quite discovered just how leaderless it is. Will it come as a shock to find out? After all, isn’t this what you voted for?
The White House will soon unveil a wide-reaching public relations campaign aimed at boosting vaccine confidence and uptake across the U.S., Biden administration aides told STAT. This television, radio, and digital advertising blitz, set to kick off within weeks, will focus on Americans outright skeptical of vaccines’ safety or effectiveness as well as those who are potentially more willing to seek a Covid-19 immunization but don’t yet know where, when, or how. Specifically, the campaign will target three groups in which access, apathy, or outright skepticism may pose a barrier to vaccinations: young people, people of color, and conservatives, according to a Biden aide. Congress and the administration have set aside over $1.5 billion for the effort.
The effort highlights a looming and underappreciated public health challenge: Though millions of Americans are currently clamoring to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, in a few short months, or even weeks, the opposite may be true. Instead of scrambling to manufacture doses, the government may soon be scrambling to find arms willing to receive them. While the administration Covid response advisers organizing the effort are broadly optimistic, they and many public health experts fear that without winning buy-in from a critical, final slice of the population, the effort could fall short of its goal: effectively ending the country’s coronavirus crisis. “I’m worried about the 15% of Americans who say they will not take the vaccine,” said Sten Vermund, the dean of the Yale School of Public Health.
“And about 8% or 9% of Americans say, ‘I will take it if they make me, if my job forces me to.’ So that’s about 23% or 24%, and that’s flirting with the level we need to get to herd immunity.” The rollout fulfills one of Biden’s first promises in office. He pledged on Jan. 21 to kick off an “unprecedented vaccination public health campaign” aimed at convincing every American adult to seek a Covid-19 immunization.= As for the specific content, administration officials said they were mindful that appeals directly from President Biden or Anthony Fauci are not likely to sway vaccine-hesitant people. As a result, they are expected to recruit both celebrities and trusted local officials to advance the pro-vaccine message.
Last week President Biden addressed the nation on the first anniversary of the coronavirus being declared a “pandemic.” It was a disturbing speech, warning us that the “hopeful spring” will only emerge “from a dark winter” if all Americans “stick with the rules.” Whose rules? His rules. The message from the president was clear: he will only allow us to have some of our freedoms back if we do exactly as he tells us. It was the language of extortion, of a bank robber who demands you do what he says or face the consequences. It was not the language of someone we are told is the leader of the free world. In the speech Biden laid out a list of what was taken from us over the past year, “weddings, birthdays, graduations…family reunions, the Sunday night rituals.”
It was as if somehow the virus, instead of authoritarian government officials, prevented us from enjoying these normal human activities. Though we continue to see Covid disappear across the country with the end of the winter season, Biden was not about to let go of his perceived power to control our lives. He said, “if we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends, will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day. That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together.” Imagine our Founders hearing this speech. The US president might – just might – allow small family gatherings at home in four months if we follow all of his rules.
King George looked benevolent by comparison! As Rep. Thomas Massie Tweeted shortly after the speech, “If you’re waiting for permission from the chief executive to celebrate Independence Day with your family, you clearly don’t grasp the concept of Independence.” It seems like yesterday – it almost was – that Biden “asked” us to just wear the mask for 100 days. “Just 100 days to mask, not forever. 100 days,” he said. So from “just 100 days” to maybe you can have a small gathering by July 4th? Perhaps he just forgot his earlier speech? As usual, the goalposts keep being moved because politicians cannot bear the possibility that they might have to give up some of that power over us they have grabbed for themselves.
Fauci made the usual mainstream media rounds over the weekend and was asked by the fawning host when Americans might have permission to hold weddings again! So now Americans need Fauci’s permission to get married? What is happening to this country? The propaganda is so relentless that it seems most Americans don’t see how not normal this is! In saner times, Fauci would be laughed off the stage. Now, he’s treated as some sort of divine source of truth. Biden promised he was “using every power…as the president of the United States to put us on a war footing.” Of that I have no doubt. But Biden’s war is not against the virus. It’s against the US Constitution and liberty itself.
Germany, France and Italy have suspended the Oxford/AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine as the World Health Organization said it had seen no evidence the shot had caused incidents of blood clots and a low platelet count in some people who received it. The German health ministry said the country’s vaccine authority, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, “considers further investigation necessary after new reports of cerebral brain thrombosis in connection with vaccination in Germany and Europe”. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) should decide “whether and how the new findings will affect the approval of the vaccine”, the ministry said. The health minister, Jens Spahn, said seven cases of cerebral vein thrombosis had been reported.
While this was a “very low risk” compared with the 1.6 million jabs already given in the country, Spahn said, it would be above average if a link to the vaccine was confirmed. “The decision today is a purely precautionary measure,” he said. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said France would also stop administering the AstraZeneca shot pending an EMA assessment due on Tuesday, while the Italian medicines authority, Aifa, said it was temporarily halting inoculations as a “precautionary and temporary measure” before the EMA decision. The three countries join a growing number in Europe to have temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent days.
Denmark and Norway last week reported incidents of bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets in people who had received the AstraZeneca shot, prompting Ireland and the Netherlands to join them on Sunday in temporary suspensions. Karl Lauterbach, a professor of health economic and epidemiology at the University of Cologne and a German MP, criticised the decision. “Based on the data available, I consider this to be a mistake,” Lauterbach said. “Testing without suspension of vaccination would have been better because of the rarity of the complication. In the third wave, which is now picking up speed, the first vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine would be lifesavers.”
The U.K. coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7 is not only more transmissible, but also more deadly than other coronavirus variants, according to a new study. B.1.1.7 was first identified in the U.K. last fall and by December it was detected in several other countries including the U.S. The variant is known to be substantially more transmissible than other SARS-CoV2 coronavirus lineages and quickly took over as the dominant variant in the U.K., late last year, sparking off a damaging and deadly second wave. Scientists had suspected that B.1.1.7 might be more deadly, as well as more transmissible following a higher-than-expected number of deaths in the U.K. during the third wave this winter, which saw the U.K’s worst daily death total in January claim over 1,800 lives.
But, the new study published in the journal Nature, led by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine all but confirms that this correlation is genuine. The study looked at viral genetics data from almost 5,000 people in the U.K. who died from Covid-19, with two-thirds of those being confirmed to have the B.1.1.7 variant. It found that people who were infected with B.1.1.7 had a 55% higher risk of dying within 28 days of being tested positive for Covid-19. “England has suffered an enormous toll from B.1.1.7 in the last few months, with 42,000 COVID-19 deaths in January and February 2021 alone,” said Nick Davies, PhD, lead author from LSHTM’s Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases.
“In spite of substantial advances in COVID-19 treatment, we have already seen more deaths in 2021 than we did over the first eight months of the pandemic in 2020. Our work helps to explain why,” Davies added. The new work follows another study from the U.K. published last week, which showed that people who tested positive for B.1.1.7 in a community setting were also more likely to die within 28 days of a positive test than those with other variants.
The head of Britain’s Covid-19 genomics programme has warned that there will be a need for regular booster jabs to protect people against the virus as new potentially vaccine-busting variants emerge. “We have to appreciate that we were always going to have to have booster doses; immunity to coronavirus doesn’t last forever,” Sharon Peacock, UK Covid-19 Genomics (COG-UK) chief, told Reuters at the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s Cambridge campus on Monday. Peacock, whose COG-UK programme has sequenced half of the world’s mapped Covid-19 genomes, said she was confident new variants would emerge that would render the current vaccines ineffective.
“We already are tweaking the vaccines to deal with what the virus is doing in terms of evolution – so there are variants arising that have a combination of increased transmissibility and an ability to partially evade our immune response,” she said. The genomics chief said the “cat and mouse” battle with the virus will require international cooperation. COG-UK was set up a year ago by Peacock and the British government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, and has sequenced 346,713 genomes out of a total of 709,000 genomes mapped worldwide. To date, more than 24 million people in the UK have received at least their first vaccine dose; all vaccines being used have demonstrated considerable efficacy against the virus variants prevalent in Britain.
“The life of just one person is worth more than the private property of the richest man.” This is what’s written on the Calixto Garcia public hospital in Havana Cuba as a testament to the country’s commitment to free public healthcare, and to putting people before profit. I know this about Cuba because in March, at the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic, I spent a week in the ICU at Calixto Garcia. I had been hit by a speeding ambulance, and Cuban doctors saved my life, operated on me twice, and nursed me to stability before putting me on a private medical evacuation flight back to the U.S. All of this, including the flight, was free of cost to me- covered by Cuba’s government-run insurance for foreign visitors.
From my hospital bed, as the global emergency around me escalated, I witnessed how the Cuban government swiftly mobilized resources to protect its citizens from Covid-19: at-home testing for anyone with symptoms, door to door preventative education in the most vulnerable neighborhoods, and coordinated isolation when necessary. While deaths soared toward 100,000 in the U.S., Cuba was able to get the average daily Covid-19 related deaths close to zero for most of May-August. Cuba’s humanist approach when it comes to health was not new to me. In 2013, I co-directed a documentary on a free hospital in northern Honduras. The doctors there, all from afro-indigenous Garifuna communities, had been trained in Cuba at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) for free.
Cuba created the ELAM in 1999 to train doctors from the poorest regions of countries around the world (including the U.S.), providing full scholarships of six years tuition, room, and board, with the hope that these doctors would return and provide accessible and preventative healthcare in their communities. The ELAM was born as a response to the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and has trained tens of thousands of doctors from over 110 countries since then. Cuba is now poised to play an important role in global efforts to curb the pandemic. New variants in South Africa and Brazil, all with yet unknown implications for vaccine effectiveness, have shown us that any effort to achieve herd immunity is only as good as it is accessible equitably across the globe. Yet, as predicted, the global north is outpacing the global south dramatically in vaccination.
On February 3, Anthony Fauci said, in an event hosted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) network, that developing COVID-19 vaccines “is not a race.” “We want everybody to get over the finish line,” he assured. Dr. Fauci mentioned the Russian and the Chinese vaccines and later suggested that the U.S. should help other countries strengthen their vaccine manufacturing capacity to promote more vaccinations globally. At no point did he mention Cuba. Thanks to an established publicly-funded biotechnology program, Cuba currently has four vaccine candidates. One of those vaccines, Soberana 02, started Phase 3 clinical trials in early March. Another candidate, Abdala, started Phase 2 trials in February. Both vaccines are being developed by public research institutions and are the most promising candidates in Latin America. The fact that Dr. Fauci failed to mention these candidates is disappointing.
Facebook will soon add labels to all posts about coronavirus vaccines that points people to its Covid-19 Information Center, the company said in a blog post on Monday as part of its plans to promote vaccination efforts on its platforms, amidst continued criticism from health experts and lawmakers for allowing misinformation about vaccines to spread on its platform. In a blog post, Facebook said it is already adding labels to posts that discuss the safety of the Covid vaccines, pointing people to credible information from the World Health Organization both on its main platform and Instagram. In the coming weeks, labels will be added to all posts generally about Covid-19 vaccines and the company also plans to add additional targeted labels about other specific Covid-19 vaccine subtopics..
Users who share a post about Covid-19 vaccines on Facebook or Instagram will see an additional popup with an informational label which the company says will offer people “context they need to make informed decisions about what to share.” Facebook has also rolled out its Covid-19 Information Center on Instagram for the first time on Monday, nearly a year after it appeared on the main platform. The company also disclosed that it has implemented several temporary measures to limit the spread of vaccine misinformation including reducing distribution of content from users who have violated the platform’s policies on COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation.
In addition to tackling misinformation Facebook has promised to share real-time aggregate trends on Covid-19 vaccinations, intent to get vaccinated and reasons for hesitancy with public officials. Facebook is also working with health authorities and governments to expand their chatbots on the messaging service WhatsApp to enable it to allow registration for vaccinations. Facebook also announced it is rolling out a tool in the U.S. that will help people identify nearby places where they can get a vaccine. The tool, which is part of Facebook’s Covid-19 Information Center will include details about hours of operation, contact info and links to make an appointment. Announcing some of the new measures in a Facebook post, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “The data shows the vaccines are safe and they work. They’re our best hope for getting past this virus and getting back to normal life. I’m looking forward to getting mine, and I hope you are too.”
‘No King in the History of the World has been the Ruler of Two Billion People, but Mark Zuckerberg is’
BREAKING: @Facebook Global Planning Lead Benny Thomas Reveals Dire Need for Government Intervention
'The Single Biggest Thing is this Company Needs to be Broken Up’
The U.S. government plans to house up to 3,000 immigrant teenagers at a convention center in downtown Dallas as it struggles to find space for a surge of migrant children at the border who have strained the immigration system just two months into the Biden administration. American authorities encountered people crossing the border without legal status more than 100,000 times in February — a level higher than all but four months of Donald Trump’s presidency. The spike in traffic poses a challenge to President Joe Biden at a fraught moment with Congress, which is about to take up immigration legislation, and has required the help of the American Red Cross.
The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will be used for up to 90 days beginning as early as this week, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press that was sent Monday to members of the Dallas City Council. Federal agencies will use the facility to house boys ages 15 to 17, according to the memo, which describes the soon-to-open site as a “decompression center.” The Health and Human Services Department is rushing to open facilities across the country to house immigrant children who are otherwise being held by the Border Patrol, which is generally supposed to detain children for no more than three days. The Border Patrol is holding children longer because there is next to no space in the HHS system, similar to the last major increase in migration two years ago.
A tent facility operated by the Border Patrol in Donna, some 500 miles (804 kilometers) south of Dallas, is holding more than 1,000 children and teenagers, some as young as 4. Lawyers who inspect immigrant detention facilities under a court settlement say they interviewed children who reported being held in packed conditions in the tent, with some sleeping on the floor and others not able to shower for five days. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Saturday directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help manage and care for children crossing the border. “I am incredibly proud of the agents of the Border Patrol, who have been working around the clock in difficult circumstances to take care of children temporarily in our care,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “Yet, as I have said many times, a Border Patrol facility is no place for a child.”
Beijing is reviving its crackdown on the country’s biggest tech firms, reminding the world that the CCP is still focused on neutralizing any and all threats to its control of the Chinese economy and its people. Even after amending China’s official ideology to include entrepreneurs among the protected classes represented by the CCP (in addition to workers, farmers and soldiers), Beijing, with President Xi at its center, has apparently decided that Chinese tech firms won’t follow the American model after all. Instead, their growth and competitive capabilities will be curtailed for the sake of stability at home.
After Tencent was censured and strict new requirements weren officailly imposed on Alibaba-owned Ant Group that will prevent the company from growing, the Wall Street Journal reports that next up on Beijing’s to-do list is to force Alibaba to dump its array of media outlets. Presumably, Beijing sees these outlets as an unwelcome competitor to Beijing’s own propaganda machine. Alibaba’s media portfolio includes ownership of the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s most widely read English-language newspaper, which has an audience far outside of Hong Kong. The paper often struggled with its coverage of the unrest in Hong Kong, occasionally adopting the language of the CCP (like referring to the demonstrators as “rioters”) while still managing to rankle Beijing with its detailed coverage of the demonstrations.
According to WSJ, the CCP has been “discussing” whether to force the divestitures since early this year. Chinese regulators have been “reviewing” a list of media assets owned by Hangzhou-based Alibaba, which earns most of its money via an online retail business. Officials were appalled at how expensive Alibaba’s media interests have become. Now, Beijing is asking Alibaba to devise a plan to “curtail” its media holdings. Now, just imagine if President Trump tried to force Amazon to sell the Washington Post.
An ongoing study conducted in Stockton, California, examines how the lives of low-income Americans can improve if they are simply given money—a modest, but reliable source of income with no strings attached. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) randomly chose 125 participants from poverty-stricken residential areas and gave them $500 per month to simply use for whatever they wanted over the last two years. A majority of the participants were women (69 percent) and people of color (53 percent). Preliminary results from the first year are tantalizing for anyone interested in solutions to address rising inequality in the United States, especially as they manifest along racial and gender lines.
Within the first year, the study’s participants obtained jobs at twice the rate of the control group. At the beginning of the study, 28 percent of the participants had full-time employment, and after the first year, that number rose to 40 percent. Sukhi Samra, the director of SEED, explained to me in an interview that although Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate now running for mayor of New York City, helped popularize the idea of a universal basic income (UBI), the Stockton study of a “guaranteed basic income” (GBI) is subtly different from Yang’s proposal. “Where guaranteed income differs,” said Samra, “is that it’s usually targeted along income lines,” rather than given to everyone.
“It’s more often touted as a tool for equity, especially racial and gender equity,” she added. Samra said it was important to frame the idea of GBI within the “racial justice and social justice movements of the 1960s when you had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the National Welfare Rights Organization and the Black Panthers all advocating for a guaranteed income as the simplest and most effective way to abolish poverty.” Indeed, Dr. King wrote in his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, that he was “convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”
U.S. COVID update: Lowest number of new cases since Oct.
NOTE: Don’t miss John Day MD’s guide for COVID prevention and treatment that I published earlier yesterday: Treat Your Own COVID.
It could save your life.
Look, Prof Devi Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, and he doesn’t manage one word on the government failing to boost their citizens’ immune systems. It’s all about masks and gloves and testing and borders and messaging. You know, the stuff that attracts attention AFTER people have been infected.
Nobody has a chance in the face of all this myopia.
First, the UK had no border policies in place for months. [..] The second fatal flaw in the UK’s response happened on 12 March, when the government made the fatal decision to stop community testing [..] Third, the government made another harmful decision in March when it delayed the first lockdown. [..] The fourth error was the lack of appropriate personal protective equipment for many health and social workers [..] Finally, the UK has continually lacked both clear leadership and messaging, which are vital in a pandemic. Rather than leading from the front, the government seems to only follow public opinion and polling.
In an old people’s and nursing home in Belm in the Osnabrück district, there was an outbreak of the British Corona variant despite the vaccination. In 14 seniors the virus is B.1.1.7. – although all residents had been vaccinated for the second time on January 25, the district announced. The home, all employees and their families have been quarantined. The board of directors of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, Brysch, called on the Ministry of Health to closely monitor nursing homes after the second vaccination. Otherwise there would be no reliable data on the danger the mutation posed for the high-risk group. So far there have only been asymptomatic or mild courses of the disease in the residents, which could be a positive effect of the vaccination, said the press spokesman for the Osnabrück district.
Israel and Greece agreed on Monday to pave the way for vaccinated tourists to travel between their two countries in an effort to boost their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the agreement in Jerusalem on Monday. The deal is designed to allow tourists with vaccination certificates to move between the countries “without any limitations, no self-isolation, nothing,” Netanyahu said at a press conference.
Both economies have large sectors devoted to tourism, an industry devastated by travel restrictions during the 11-month pandemic. The announcement comes at a time of tough new travel restrictions elsewhere around the world as governments grapple with variants of the virus. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation says international arrivals fell 74% last year, wiping out $1.3 trillion (€1 trillion) in revenue and putting up to 120 million jobs at risk. A UNWTO expert panel had a mixed outlook for 2021, with 45% expecting a better year, 25% no change and 30% a worse one.
Moderna’s delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Canada has hit delays because the company has encountered problems with its European supply chain and restrictions on exports of vaccine supplies, the Star has learned. A senior federal source with knowledge of the file told the Star that Moderna is trying to source the material needed to produce its vaccine, and to meet demand for materials needed to package the vaccines. The source said the company’s own supply for materials has been affected by the European Union’s attempt to control how much material is exported before its member states are supplied with vaccine. In a written statement to the Star, Moderna’s country manager for Canada, Patricia Gauthier, confirmed the company’s effort to scale up production in Switzerland is a factor in delayed deliveries to countries outside of the United States.
The statement said Moderna has provided revised short-term delivery guidance “outside of the U.S., including to the government of Canada based on the ramp up trajectory of drug substance manufacturing in Switzerland.” It also suggested no problems are occurring with its packaging process. “Fill and finish activities continue as planned,” the statement said. “Moderna remains focused on operating at the highest level of quality to ensure the safety of the vaccine.” Moderna also confirmed its contract with Canada specifies “delivery volumes per quarter,” and said it will “meet its contractual commitments for the first quarter and the following quarters in order to deliver 40 million doses by the end of the third quarter.” It said its strategic collaboration with Lonza in Switzerland — which started mass production of Moderna vaccines this year — aims to manufacture up to 1 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine per year.
Cuba’s socialist approach to developing vaccines against COVID-19 differs strikingly from that of capitalist nations of the world. Cuba’s production of four vaccines is grounded in science and dedicated to saving the lives of all Cubans, and to international solidarity. The New York Times’s running report on the world’s vaccine programs shows 67 vaccines having advanced to human trials; 20 of them are in the final phase of trials or have completed them. The United States, China, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, and India have each produced many vaccines; most vaccine-manufacturing countries are offering one or two vaccines. Cuba is the only vaccine manufacturer in Latin America; there are none in Africa. The only state-owned entities producing the leading vaccines are those of Cuba and Russia.
Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute has produced two COVID-19 vaccines. Trials for one of them, called Sovereign I, focus on protecting people previously infected with COVID-19. The antibody levels of some of them turned out to be low, and the vaccine might provide a boost. The other vaccine, Sovereign II, is about to enter final human trials. For verifying protection, these trials require tens of thousands of subjects, one half receiving the vaccine and the other half, a placebo vaccine. Cuba’s population is relatively small, 11 million people, too small to yield enough infected people in the short time required to test the vaccine’s protective effect. That’s why Sovereign II will be tested in Iran.
100 million doses of Sovereign II are being prepared, enough to immunize all 11 million Cubans, beginning in March or April. The 70 million remaining doses will go to Vietnam, Iran, Pakistan, India, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. Sovereign II “will be the vaccine of ALBA,” explained Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, referring to the solidarity alliance established in 2004 by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. “Cuba’s strategy in commercializing the vaccine represents a combination of what’s good for humankind and the impact on world health. We are not a multinational where a financial objective comes first,” says Vicente Vérez Bencomo, director of Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute. Income generated by vaccine sales abroad will pay for health care, education, and pensions in Cuba just as happens with exports of medical services and medicines.
Cuba’s Center for Genetic and Biotechnological Engineering is developing two other COVID-19 vaccines; One, named “Mambisa” (signifying a female combatant in wars of liberation from Spain), is administered via the nasal route, just as is Cuba’s hepatitis B vaccine. The other vaccine, named “Abdala” (a character in a Jose Marti poem) is administered intramuscularly. The two vaccines are involved in early trials.
There is a new variant of the global virus spreading again after being subdued throughout 2020. This is a very dangerous variant and if it takes hold will guarantee massive human suffering, and, a further, substantial shift in national income towards the top-end-of-town. I refer to the creeping infestation that is starting to pop up claiming that austerity will be required to pay for all the “profligacy” associated with government approach to the pandemic. I have seen this virus in the wild and it is creepy and being spread by those who seem to want to gain attention as time passes them by. Overheating threats, austerity threats – it is all part of the economics establishment trying to remain relevant. A vaccine will not work. They need to be permanently isolated.
The Prospect Magazine article (January, 26, 2021) – In defence of austerity – written by a “former head of Treasury” The sub-title begins the twisted framing: “Free money is in vogue—but there’s no such thing” – the only cost of the Bank of England buying all the debt being issued by H.M. Treasury is the wear and tear on the computer keyboards that type in the numbers. The pandemic has exposed to an increasing number of people that there is ‘free money’. They are realising that numbers just appear in bank accounts. Perhaps this former official should watch the recent speech and subsequent Q&A from the Reserve Bank of Australia governor, Philip Lowe to the National Press Club in Canberra (February 3, 2020).
He was asked by a journalist in the Q&A: Could you please explain in the simplest terms, perhaps keeping in mind your audience outside of this room, when the RBA decides to purchase government bonds, as it’s doing, where does the RBA get that money from? Is it simply a matter of printing new money? How does it work? The Governor replied:
“Well, it’s not printing money. People think of it as printing money, because once upon a time if the central bank bought an asset, it might pay for that asset by giving you notes, you know, bank notes. I’d have to run my printing presses to do it. We don’t operate that way anymore, obviously because we live in an electronic world. When we buy a bond from a bank, the way we pay for that is credit. The banks, we’ll use Westpac, who’s the sponsor of today’s event as an example. If we bought a bond from Westpac, we would credit Westpac’s account at the Reserve Bank, and that creates the money electronically. That’s how a modern system works. And then Westpac could use that money hopefully to make some loans to some of its customers. But we can create money electronically, and that’s what we do these days …”
If you’re over 40 you’ve lived through at least three epic financial bubbles: junk bonds in the 1980s, tech stocks in the 1990s, and housing in the 2000s. Each was spectacular in its own way, and each threatened to take down the whole financial system when it burst. But they pale next to what’s happening today. Where those past bubbles were sector-specific, which is to say the mania and resulting carnage occurred mostly within one asset class, today’s bubble is spread across, well, pretty much everything – hence the term “everything bubble.” When this one pops there won’t be a lot of hiding places.
Most bubbles start when an influx of outside cash sends the price of something up dramatically. This captures the imagination of the broader investing public and the process takes on a life of its own, culminating in an orgy of bad decisions and eventually a wipe-out of the easy fortunes made on the way up. So to understand the everything bubble, let’s start at the beginning with that influx of outside money. This time it’s coming from the Federal Reserve in what can only be described as the mother of all print runs. M2, a medium-broad measure of the US money supply, has more than tripled so far in this century, and lately the arc has gone vertical, rising by nearly a third in just the past year.
All this extra money has to go somewhere, so no surprise that it’s flowing in lots of different directions. Among the recipients: The bond and money markets, made up of instruments that pay interest, are in the aggregate far bigger than the world’s stock markets. And they’ve been booming, with interest rates falling steadily for four straight decades. Since bond prices are the reciprocal of bond yields, the next chart can be read as an epic bull market in bonds, one which has gained steam in the past year as massive currency creation has forced fixed income investors (who have to invest new cash somehow) to buy bonds regardless of what they yield.
After days of infighting, House Democrats on Monday night released details of proposed coronavirus relief measures that would put the ceiling for full $1,400 stimulus checks to Americans at the same income levels as previous payouts, rejecting calls from more centrist Democrats to lower the threshold. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Ma.) released a draft version of the bill Monday night proposing $1,400 stimulus checks for single earners making up to $75,000 and for joint filers earning up to $150,000. Some centrist Democrats had called for lowering the threshold to $50,000 per year for individuals and $100,000 per year for joint filers, causing outrage from progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-Ny). Child and adult dependents will now be eligible, unlike the previous rounds of stimulus payments.
Responding to concerns that wealthy people would receive checks, the stimulus payments will phase out quicker, zeroing out when individual income reaches $100,000 and at $200,000 for households. Democrats last week passed a budget reconciliation measure, which allows them to pass a stimulus plan with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. As a result, the final bill will likely be subject to intense jockeying between Democrats because the party can’t afford to lose a single vote in the Senate without Republican support. The measure still has to pass the rest of the House and the Senate, where it meets resistance from centrist Joe Manchin (D-W.Va), who has been leading the charge to lower the income threshold. Democrats anticipate that the final package will be passed by both houses of Congress by mid-March.
The U.S. could return to full employment in 2022 if President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package is passed, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday. “There’s absolutely no reason why we should suffer through a long slow recovery,” Yellen said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I would expect that if this package is passed that we would get back to full employment next year.” Long-term unemployment is nearing a historical peak nearly a year since the pandemic began. Nearly 40% of unemployed workers have been out of work for six months, the Bureau of of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, with nearly 9 million fewer Americans working now than last February. The unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in January.
The pandemic-fueled unemployment rate will remain elevated for years to come without more federal support, Yellen said, citing an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Without additional stimulus, it could take until 2025 to send the unemployment rate back down to 4%. Yellen also said that former Obama economic adviser Larry Summer’s concerns over Biden’s stimulus plan posing risks to inflation are small compared to economic damage from failing to provide enough economic support during the pandemic. The U.S. has “the tools to deal with” the risk of inflation, Yellen said.
Democrats in Congress have moved to pass the stimulus plan within two weeks without GOP support, using a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation. The plan is the first of two major spending initiatives Biden will seek and includes provisions like direct payments to Americans, weekly jobless benefits through September and funding for vaccines and testing. The second bill will focus on infrastructure reform, climate change and racial equity, among other things. “We have people suffering … through absolutely no fault of their own,” Yellen said. “We have to get them to the other side and make sure that this doesn’t take a permanent toll on their lives.”
More than 100 economists, led by French economist Thomas Piketty, creator of some of the most absurd proposals embraced by the extreme left, on Feb. 5 published an open letter in which they called for a cancellation of government debt in the hands of the ECB “in exchange for greater public investment”—which, by the way, would be paid with more issuance of public debt. Fascinating. Luís de Guindos, vice president of the ECB, has settled the controversy with two pieces of evidence. “The cancellation of debt [on the ECB balance sheet] is illegal … [and] does not make any economic or financial sense at all,” he explained in a speech, according to Europa Press. The first part is obvious. It is prohibited by the bylaws of the ECB. I will explain the lack of economic logic here.
A debt write-off or cancellation is evidence of the issuer’s insolvency. If, as the economists repeat, the solvency and credit credibility of the eurozone is not at stake, why ask for a cancellation? If, in addition, as Piketty and other defenders of massive state indebtedness maintain, deficits are not a problem and increasing debt is not a concern because it creates reserves, why cancel it? Let’s not forget that many of the parties that have embraced Piketty’s idea in Europe—Podemos, Syriza, and other European radical parties—filed a proposal to exit the euro in 2015 that they have never subsequently withdrawn or rejected. Podemos MEPs presented a resolution in Strasbourg for the European Union to prepare the mechanisms for the “orderly dissolution of the euro zone.” They also proposed to establish “the mechanisms that would allow a country integrated in the single currency to abandon it to adopt another currency,” according to Spanish newspaper Crónica Global.
So basically, radical parties in Europe demand that the ECB forgives their debt and prints more while keeping the option of leaving the euro. Call that baking the cake and eating it. Most eurozone states finance themselves today at negative rates or extremely low yields. It would be a mistake to think that these low interest yields are the consequence of good government fiscal policy. If the eurozone has low interest rates and low yields it’s because European taxpayers keep it solvent—mostly thanks to Germany’s financial solvency. European taxpayers uphold the credibility of the euro as a currency, and with this the ECB can carry out expansionary policies.
Piketty and colleagues open a dangerous option: direct monetization of all and any government spending Argentina-style. And do so ignoring that the euro is the only global reserve currency with redenomination risk, and that its credibility is maintained only because of the widespread confidence in the euro area’s commitment to repay its debts. A euro bond is an asset for many investors globally only because it’s supposed to be of the lowest risk. Opening the Pandora’s box of cancellations means its status as an asset disappears.
For the first time since the US war in Afghanistan started in 2001, no US troops died in combat in the country for an entire year. The last US combat death took place on February 8th, 2020, when two US Army soldiers were killed in a firefight. This means since the US and Taliban signed a peace deal in late February of last year, no US troops have been killed by the group. But with the withdrawal deadline approaching, the Taliban is vowing to again turn their weapons on US soldiers if they stay in Afghanistan past May 1st. While the Biden administration has yet to make a formal announcement, the chances of a US withdrawal by May 1st seem slim. Last week, a congressionally mandated report was released that warned against the May 1st deadline, which could be all the excuse the US needs to stay.
Pentagon officials have said the deadline is uncertain and insist troops levels in Afghanistan remain “conditions-based.” US officials have been complaining about the amount of violence between the Taliban and the US-backed government. On Monday, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, said the level of violence is “too high” and that the Biden administration is taking “a close look at the way forward in accordance with the February 2020 peace agreement.” Since the US is not the only country with troops in Afghanistan, the US-Taliban deal paved the way for all foreign and NATO forces to leave the country. While the alliance has also not made a formal announcement, NATO officials told reporters that NATO troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond May 1st.
[..] And the emotionally charged case that Trump incited the Capitol riot with his Jan. 6 speech, has developed deep cracks. Less than a half dozen Republicans have shown any interest in conviction as the facts increasingly show the riot was not spontaneous but rather planned for days and weeks with fund-raising, training, and combat threats. Even the former Capitol Police chief has weighed in with a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying the attacks exhibited a “high level of coordination,” undercutting the Democrats’ spontaneous incitement narrative even further. The likelihood of Trump’s conviction has waned as the premeditation evidence mounts, and now Democrats once gleeful they could end the 45th president’s ability to ever hold office again are now pressing to get the trial over quickly as acquittal seems assured.
“It’s not clear to me that there is any evidence that will change anyone’s mind,” Hawaii’s Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz told Politico. Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, often an opponent of Trump, acknowledged the obvious, observing, “Both sides would kind of like to wrap it up fairly quickly.” The Senate trial will start Tuesday with a debate over whether the event is even constitutional with Chief Justice John Roberts refusing to preside, Trump already out of office, and a legitimate debate over whether Trump’s speech was protected “free speech” as Democratic law professor John Turley has argued. Once a dream of Democrats, the trial is feeling more like a burden to them as other elements pose obstacles and challenges to the Biden agenda.
Even Biden himself has little interest in watching the trial, his chief spokeswoman said Monday. “I think it’s clear from his schedule and from his intention that he will not spend too much time watching the proceedings,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
The federal government is projected to spend $483 million to keep National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., until mid-March, amid fears that former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial may draw more violence. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday the price of sending National Guard troops to protect the area around the Capitol from January 6 to March 15 will total $483 million, $284 million for personnel and $199 million for operations. 5,000 troops are slated to remain in the city until March 15 as Trump’s Senate impeachment trial poses security concerns, Politico reported, including “mass demonstrations,” but it’s unclear if there is a specific threat. In the aftermath of the Capitol riots, 25,000 National Guard troops flooded Washington, D.C., for Biden’s inauguration in an effort to prevent further violence.
The majority of troops remaining in the city will do so voluntarily, according to Politico. Republican lawmakers have questioned the need for National Guard troops around the Capitol Hill complex. “We still have National Guardsmen out there, away from their families, away from their jobs, supplementing the police, and yet we can’t get a briefing on what is this dire threat that requires so many people. We still don’t have answers,” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) told Fox News. Security forces were largely unprepared for the pro-Trump mob that breached the Capitol last month. National Guard troops were only called in after rioters stormed the building, and members of both parties are calling for investigations into security lapses surrounding the attack. But keeping thousands of troops in the city has been rocky: nearly 200 have contracted Covid-19, according to the Military Times.
Media freedom groups and supporters of Julian Assange have asked the Biden administration to drop the US’s pursuit of the WikiLeaks’ founder, saying Donald Trump was opposed to the idea of a “free press”. In their first appeal to the US government since Joe Biden became president less than three weeks ago, more than 20 groups working to promote human right and a free media, wrote to the department of justice, asking it to drop the case against Mr Assange, saying they were fearful “the way that a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged”.
“The indictment of Mr Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do,” said the letter, signed by groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalise these common journalistic practices.” There was no immediate response from the White House. But in a short statement released on Monday evening, a spokesperson for the department of justice, said: “We are continuing our efforts to seek the extradition of Julian Assange.”
[..] In their letter, the activists point out the Obama administration, of which Mr Biden was a key part, decided not to pursue the prosecution of Mr Assange. “The Trump administration positioned itself as an antagonist to the institution of a free and unfettered press in numerous ways. Its abuse of its prosecutorial powers was among the most disturbing,” the letter says. “We are deeply concerned about the way that a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged—perhaps by a future administration—against publishers and journalists of all stripes.” The New York Times said the department had a deadline of Friday to file a brief in the British court if it wanted to continue to pursue the matter. The department is currently headed by a caretaker official, Monty Wilkinson, the acting attorney general. The letter was addressed to him.
If you enjoyed the Global War on Terror, you’re going to love the new War on Domestic Terror! It’s just like the original Global War on Terror, except that this time the “Terrorists” are all “Domestic Violent Extremists” (“DVEs”), “Homegrown Violent Extremists” (“HVEs”), “Violent Conspiracy-Theorist Extremists” (“VCTEs”), “Violent Reality Denialist Extremists” (VRDEs”), “Insurrectionary Micro-Aggressionist Extremists” (“IMAEs”), “People Who Make Liberals Feel Uncomfortable” (“PWMLFUs”), and anyone else the Department of Homeland Security wants to label an “extremist” and slap a ridiculous acronym on. According to a “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” issued by the DHS on January 27, these DCEs, HVEs, VCTEs, VRDEs, IMAEs, and PWMLFUs are “ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority [and] perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.”
They are believed to be “motivated by a range of issues, including anger over Covid-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, police use of force,” and other dangerous “false narratives” (e.g., the existence of the “deep state,” “herd immunity,” “biological sex,” “God,” and so on). “Inspired by foreign terrorist groups” and “emboldened by the breach of the US Capitol Building,” this diabolical network of “domestic terrorists” is “plotting attacks against government facilities,” “threatening violence against critical infrastructure” and actively “citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about Covid-19.” For all we know, they might be huddled in the “Wolf’s Lair” at Mar-a-Lago right now, plotting a devastating terrorist attack with those WMDs we never found in Iraq, or generating population-adjusted death-rate charts going back 20 years, or posting pictures of “extremist frogs” on the Internet.
The Department of Homeland Security is “concerned,” as are its counterparts throughout the global capitalist empire. The (New Normal) War on Domestic Terror isn’t just a war on American “domestic terror.” The “domestic terror” threat is international. France has just passed a “Global Security Law” banning citizens from filming the police beating the living snot out of people (among other “anti-terrorist” provisions). In Germany, the government is preparing to install an anti-terror moat around the Reichstag. In the Netherlands, the police are cracking down on the VCTEs, VRDEs, and other “angry citizens who hate the system,” who have been protesting over nightly curfews.
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have isolated “the smallest biological molecule” that “completely and specifically neutralizes” SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus. The antibody component is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody, and has been used to create the drug Ab8, shared in the report published by the researchers in the journal Cell on Monday. The drug is seen as a potential preventative against SARS-CoV-2. According to the report, the drug has been “highly effective in preventing and treating” the SARS-CoV-2 infections in mice and hamsters during tests. The drug also reportedly does not bind to human cells, which suggests it will not have negative side-effects in people.
“Ab8 not only has potential as therapy for COVID-19, but it also could be used to keep people from getting SARS-CoV-2 infections,” said co-author John Mellors, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Pitt and UPMC. “Antibodies of larger size have worked against other infectious diseases and have been well tolerated, giving us hope that it could be an effective treatment for patients with COVID-19 and for protection of those who have never had the infection and are not immune.” [..] According to the report, the team at University of Texas Medical Branch Center for Biodefense and Emerging Diseases and Galveston National Laboratory tested Ab8 and found it blocked the virus from entering cells. In mice trials, those treated with Ab8 had 10-fold less of the amount of infectious virus compared to those that were untreated.
A forthcoming study from genetic testing giant 23andMe shows that a person’s genetic code could be connected to how likely they are to catch Covid-19 — and how severely they could experience the disease if they catch it. It’s an important confirmation of earlier work on the subject. People whose blood group is O seemed to test positive for Covid-19 less often than expected when compared to people with any other blood group, according to 23andMe’s data; people who tested positive and had a specific variant of another gene also seemed to be more likely to have serious respiratory symptoms. The study, which was released on a preprint server and which has not yet been peer-reviewed, could extend and confirm earlier work on the subject; 23andMe’s study relied on a larger dataset than earlier work and included a more diverse set of participants, the company said.
Experts who aren’t affiliated with 23andMe praised the study design and the work. “They clarify further what our data could only vaguely hint at,” said Tom Hemming Karlsen, a physician at Oslo University Hospital who published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on genetic links with Covid-19 severity in June, and who was not associated with 23andMe’s work. But the outside experts also cautioned that the research won’t change treatment decisions. “It doesn’t have practical implications. There’s no treatment decisions that will be made from it — it’s just an interesting finding,” said Jennifer Lighter, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at NYU Langone who was not involved in the research. Unlike the study Karlsen and his colleagues ran, which only included people with severe Covid-19 symptoms, 23andMe included people who had both mild and severe cases — which allowed them to draw stronger conclusions, Karlsen said.
The company’s study participants are also more diverse than Karlsen’s, which only studied people in Spain and Italy. However, the 23andMe study’s demographics still don’t fully reflect the population of the United States. A little more than 11% of the people in 23andMe’s studies said they were Latino; less than 3% said they were Black. (Latinos represent about 16% of the U.S. population, while Black people account for about 13% of the population.) Both Karlsen and 23andMe’s team found that the genes that code for a person’s blood type seemed to be linked to whether a person would test positive for Covid-19; another section of chromosome 3 — referred to in both papers as chr3p21.31 — seemed to be linked to how severe a person’s response would be to a Covid-19 infection.
Treating coronavirus patients with high doses of vitamin D supplements could help keep them out of intensive care, a study has suggested. Researchers gave high doses of calcifediol – a type of vitamin D supplement – to 50 patients hospitalised with Covid-19 in Spain. They were given 100 micrograms of the supplement over the course of a week, with 55mcg on the first day and then two booster doses of 27mcg on days three and seven. The dose was higher than the 70mcg weekly limit recommended by the NHS. Scientists compared the participants’ health with 26 volunteers in a control group who were not given the tablets, which are normally prescribed to patients with thyroid or kidney problems.
Just one patient given calcifediol fell ill enough to be admitted to intensive care, whereas half of the participants in the control group were taken to ICU and two died. There were no deaths among volunteers receiving the vitamin and all 50 patients were eventually discharged by the end of the study. Experts now believe Covid-19 causes a catastrophic build-up of a chemical called bradykinin, which makes blood vessels leaky and drives up the risk of inflammation. Calcifediol is one of the few hormones which regulates the bradykinin and it can also prevent the immune system from going into overdrive. Researchers have been divided over whether a vitamin D deficiency, which is vital to the immune system, can raise the risk of dying of Covid-19.
Some scientists suggested that it may be one of the reasons black people face a higher risk of dying from the illness, because they do not produce as much of the vitamin naturally. Taking too much vitamin D can cause bone and organ damage over time, however, and scientists discouraged people from trying to self-medicate. For the study, researchers from the University of Cordoba in Spain and research university KU Leuven in Belgium monitored 76 hospital patients with Covid-19. Fifty of the patients were randomly assigned to have calcifediol tablets, along with normal care. Twenty-six volunteers were put in a control group who only received standard care, to compare the treatment to. Because the study was conducted several months ago, the standard care for coronavirus in Spain was hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. These two drugs have since been proven ineffective at treating the virus.
At the start of Togo’s coronavirus outbreak, the small West African nation welcomed a team of 12 Cuban healthcare workers to tend to sufferers of the virus, boost its laboratory testing and help improve its hospital protocols. While the virus was overwhelming healthcare systems worldwide, the Communist-run Caribbean island boasted a rare resource: a surplus of doctors trained in deploying abroad and battling infectious disease. And it was willing to dispatch them all over the globe to nations requesting help. “As scientific and medical circles groped in the dark, Cuban medicine, strong from past experiences, brought appropriate answers,” said the head of cooperation at Togo’s foreign ministry, Charles Azilan.
Nearly 40 countries across five continents have received Cuban medics during the pandemic, as the island nation – home to just over 11 million inhabitants – has once more punched far above its weight in medical diplomacy. Since its 1959 leftist revolution, Cuba has dispatched its “army of white coats” to disaster sites and disease outbreaks around the world in the name of solidarity. In the last decade, they have fought cholera in Haiti and Ebola in West Africa. Not that its brigades are purely altruistic. Cuba has exported doctors on more routine missions in exchange for cash or goods in recent decades, making them its top source of hard currency. While some countries have received the medics for free during the pandemic, others are paying: a slight boon to Cuba’s economy struggling with the coronavirus-induced collapse in tourism.
[..] With financial aid from its former ally the Soviet Union, Cuba built up a healthcare system that was the envy of the developing world under the leadership of the late Fidel Castro. Some of those advances have been lost since the communist bloc collapsed. Many hospitals are run down, medicines are in short supply and Cubans complain about a decline in the quality of medical training. Still, Cuba has one of the highest ratios of physicians per capita in the world and even before pandemic struck, had some 28,000 medics deployed globally. It has since dispatched a further 4,000.
The orgy of political hysteria, insane thinking, and violence is a psychotic reaction to the collapsing techno-industrial economy — a feature of it, actually. When all familiar social and economic arrangements are threatened, people go nuts. Interestingly, the craziness actually started in the colleges and universities where ideas (the products of thinking) are supposed to be the stock-in-trade. The more pressing the practical matters of daily life became, the less intellectuals wanted to face them. So, they desperately generated a force-field of crazy counter-ideas to repel the threat, a curriculum of wishful thinking, childish utopian nostrums, and exercises in boundary-smashing. As all this moved out of the campuses (the graduation function), it infected every other corner of American endeavor, institutions, business, news media, sports, Hollywood, etc. The country is now out of its mind… echoes of France, 1793… a rhyme, not a reprise.
The US economy began a slow and insidious collapse because its petroleum energy base became unaffordable. The reality of that was obscured by paradoxical appearances: the shale oil miracle goosed up US oil production from under five million barrels-a-day in 2007 to thirteen million barrels-a-day in 2019. Pretty awesome. Seemed like we were awash in oil. The problem was the companies producing shale oil couldn’t make money at it, and the loans that went into staging the shale oil “miracle” went bad… and then the companies couldn’t get new loans… and went bankrupt. So, the crash of US oil production is a self-reinforcing feedback loop that is sure to continue and will make things worse. Now, less than a year after reaching that majestic 13 million barrels-a-day, production has fallen to around 10 million a day — quite an impressive drop.
Further obscuring the actual dynamic in play, gasoline prices at the pump are quite low — under $2.50-a-gallon where I live, compared with $4-plus a couple of years ago — and most citizens consider the price of gasoline their sole index of how things are going in the oil industry. The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated and accelerated the damage from that by shutting down much of small business across America since March. The businesses and people who owned them have suffered terribly. That and the public lockdowns have greatly depressed the demand for oil products, driving the price-per-barrel down and reducing the cash flow of the oil companies. That also aggravated worsening relations with our principal trading partner, China, the net effect of which threatens the supply chain for all sorts of critical parts and products needed to keep our complex systems running.
“Oh, but one more thing: America needs to understand that while it might very well look like Trump won on election night, due to our new rules votes will be counted for weeks afterward and then our candidate will probably win.”
Michael Anton’s new article “The Coming Coup?” went viral almost as soon as we posted it a week ago today. This is not simply because figures like Lara Logan, Mollie Hemingway, Newt Gingrich, Dan Bongino, and the editors of the New York Post took note. It spread because concerned citizens began sharing it throughout the nation. We could tell it was especially effective because so many in the mainstream media maintained studious radio silence. But hyperventilating ruling-class supporters of the Biden/BLM/Antifa coalition did predictably lash out. The epitome of these reactions is an article in New York magazine’s Intelligencer, by political columnist Ed Kilgore, entitled “Trump Backers Make Case for Stealing Election, Before Biden Gets the Chance.”
The title itself reveals the stubborn simplicity of the Democratic Party’s coup narrative. Their elites have worked themselves and their base into a frothing lather of existential fright. In article after article, liberal intellectuals and activists have been talking for months about how Trump could steal the election or refuse to leave the White House even if he loses. But if the Right dares to point out that Democrats are actually changing the rules of the electoral process and actually speaking publicly about refusing to concede even if they lose, well, this only proves that the Right is going to steal the election and refuse to concede if they lose! In reality, of course, Anton and others are simply trying to shine a light on what Democrats are now openly declaring in public.
Kilgore frames Anton’s essay as part of an effort among conservatives to spread the craaaazy idea that Democrats’ obsessive focus on mail-in voting is part of a panicky effort to throw the election, not a good-faith scheme to protect people from coronavirus. Let’s leave aside the fact that no less an establishment authority than the Atlantic admits the voting booth is as safe as the grocery store. In fact, says Kilgore, echoing the new establishment narrative, so many legitimate Biden votes may come flooding in by mail after the in-person voting is through that the election will turn around all on its own. Every major media outlet is now full of supposed expert authorities – even Mark Zuckerberg recently got into the act – telling the American people that the rule changes Democrat apparatchiks are pushing throughout the nation are totally normal.
But as elections expert Hans Von Spakovsky pointed out in these pages, “what is clear from all of these lawsuits is that the Democrats and these organizations are trying to change the rules governing the administration of the November election” midstream while Republicans are trying to “preserve the status quo.” (If you want to understand what the Democrats are up to, give Spakovsky’s “Democrats Versus the Vote” a close read.) Kilgore likes to present himself as a reasonable man. But how are voters supposed to respond when the message from the Democrat Party is “our lawsuits to change the way we’ve always voted in the middle of a tumultuous election season are not part of a partisan cheat. Oh, but one more thing: America needs to understand that while it might very well look like Trump won on election night, due to our new rules votes will be counted for weeks afterward and then our candidate will probably win.”
A new poll from Left-wing Yahoo News and YouGov says that a discredited story by The Atlantic earlier this month claiming that President Donald Trump disparaged American war dead and “misled” about COVID-19 has changed peoples’ minds about supporting him in November. Now, allegedly because of the “bombshell” revelations in the story, some voters have shifted their support to Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden. “Donald Trump has fallen further behind Joe Biden following bombshell reports that the president knowingly misled Americans about the dangers of COVID-19 and privately disparaged dead U.S. soldiers as ‘suckers’ and ‘losers,’ according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll,” Yahoo News reported Friday. Subsequent reporting indicates that neither of those claims are true.
Several current and former White House officials who were with the president during a 2018 visit to France — when the reported disparaging of American World War I dead was alleged to have happened — disputed Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg’s story. Included on that list is former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who is no fan of the president. As to the claims about coronavirus, while President Trump reportedly told Washington Post correspondent and author Bob Woodward he tried to downplay the severity of COVID-19 so as not to cause panic, he nevertheless warned Americans early on the disease was serious and took several measures — including shutting off most travel to and from China, where the virus originated — very early on.
That said, according to Yahoo News, support for Trump has allegedly tanked: “The survey, which was conducted from Sept. 9 to 11, shows Biden leading Trump by 10 percentage points among registered voters, 49 percent to 39 percent. The previous Yahoo News/YouGov poll found Biden ahead by just 6 points immediately after the Republican National Convention. The results suggest that a week of unrelenting and unflattering revelations about Trump — from the Atlantic report on his alleged contempt for Americans wounded or killed in war (which appeared on Sept. 3) to Bob Woodward’s recordings of Trump admitting he downplayed the deadliness of COVID-19 (released on Sept. 9) — has damaged the president’s standing with voters.”
The survey itself is suspect. For one, it polled “registered voters,” which are less accurate than “likely voters” and tend to skew towards Democrats, according to FiveThirtyEight. In fact, the Yahoo News/YouGov poll skewed heavily towards Democrats. On the issue of favorable views towards Biden and Trump, pollsters oversampled Democrats to Republicans, 366 to 220, respectively. The poll’s claims about which candidate has more respect for the military seems suspect as well. “Asked which candidate shows more respect for the military, 50 percent of registered voters name Biden, compared to 39 percent for Trump. By the same margin, voters say Biden would do a better job leading the military than the current commander in chief,” Yahoo News reported.
Once again, the whispers of phantoms masquerading as administration officials have attempted to put Donald Trump on the defensive only two months before the fall election. And in typical fashion, the roused president has gone on an immediate rhetorical offensive. Trump has doubled down on his affirmations towards the U.S. military and the American soldier, while simultaneously confronting the class of generals who command them. “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me—the soldiers are,” Trump said at a Labor Day press conference. “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”
This is a dramatic shift in perspective from the man who spent the first two years of his presidency surrounding himself with top brass like Michael Flynn, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, and James Mattis (along with almost being beguiled into nominating David Petraeus as Secretary of State). Perhaps Trump learned the hard way that the generals of the forever wars don’t measure up to the twentieth-century soldiers he adulated growing up. For instance, when George Marshall oversaw the deployment of 8.3 million GIs across four continents in World War II, he did so with the assistance of only three other four-star generals. In retirement, Marshall refused to sit on any corporate boards, and passed on multiple lucrative book deals, lest he give the impression that he was profiting from his military record. As he told one publisher, “he had not spent his life serving the government in order to sell his life story to the Saturday Evening Post.”
[..] General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, in between his forced retirement from the Marine Corps and appointment as Secretary of Defense, joined the board of General Dynamics where he was paid over a million dollars in salary and benefits. Returning to public life, Mattis then spent two years cajoling President Trump into keeping the U.S. military engaged in places as disparate as Afghanistan, Syria, and Africa. “Sir, we’re doing it to prevent a bomb from going off in Times Square,” Mattis told his commander-in-chief. Left unsaid was that a strategic withdrawal would also lead to a precipitous decline in Mattis’ future stock options, which he regained after he rejoined General Dynamics following his December 2018 resignation.
That resignation might have been premature, however. It was only a matter of weeks before Trump’s announced withdrawal from Syria, the impetus for Mattis’ departure, was reversed. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers continue to illegally occupy the north-east of the country. That’s in addition to the thousands of Americans still kicking dust in Iraq and Afghanistan, contrary to the president’s “America First” pledge. And Trump is as guilty as any of his subordinates when it comes to coddling the military-industrial complex, gushing over billion dollar arms deals and their manufactured jobs numbers. It remains to be seen whether his latest announcement of a partial withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the month will turn out as phony as the others.
Trump’s language more closely resembles that of Major General Smedley Butler, who at the time of his death was the most decorated marine in U.S. history. “The professional soldiers and sailors don’t want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms,” Butler wrote in his 1935 book War is a Racket. To eliminate this corrupting influence, Butler advocated an egalitarian price control to prevent the arms industry—and their pet generals—from profiting off the blood of American boys. “Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our steel companies and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted—to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.”
Every few months, some group of socially conscious number crunchers will remind Americans that a tiny elite is binge-eating the nation’s economic pie while the rest of us plebeians fight over table scraps. Journalists will then aggregate eye-popping statistics and edifying charts, progressives will share these over social media, adorned with red-faced (and/or guillotine) emoji — and the moral arc of history will carry on bending toward neofeudalism. So, in the present moment of booming stock markets and child hunger, you might be feeling too inured to America’s grotesque levels of inequality to summon much interest in yet another report testifying to the one percent’s total victory in the 50 Years Class War.
But a new study from the Rand Corporation, in partnership with the Fair Work Center, illustrates the impact of a half-century of upward redistribution in bracingly concrete terms: If income had been distributed as evenly over the past five decades as it was in 1975, the median full-time worker in the U.S. would enjoy annual earnings of roughly $92,000 a year. As is, that worker makes just $50,000. It’s no secret that wage and productivity growth began decoupling in the 1970s. Charts like this one from the Economic Policy Institute have been ubiquitous in progressive economic policy debates since the Great Recession:
But RAND’s innovative methodology — which involved constructing a new metric for inequality that compares income growth to GDP, and then using that metric to gauge changes in the income distribution across every U.S. business cycle since 1975 — allowed it to translate the abstractions of macro-level income shares into something much more tangible. Between the mid-1970s and 2018, per capita GDP growth in the U.S. increased by 118 percent. Had income growth on every rung of America’s class ladder kept pace with those gains, annual earnings at the bottom would be nearly twice as high as they are now. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of U.S. earners would collectively take home $2.5 trillion more in income each year.
A new report from advocacy group Public Citizen details how retail giant Amazon “misled the public, law enforcement, and policymakers about price increases during the pandemic,” raising their prices on essential products “to levels that would be considered violations of price gouging laws in many states.” The prices of many products in high demand during the pandemic jumped by over 1,000 percent when compared to this time last year. As accusations of price gouging began, Amazon blamed “bad actors,” declaring in an official statement that, “there is no place for price gouging on Amazon,” committing itself to “working vigorously” to ensure fair pricing, and “collaborating with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies” to “hold price gougers accountable” and to protect the interests of their customers. Yet Public Citizen’s report found that “Amazon is engaged in price gouging on products it sells directly” itself, through its Amazon Essentials line. Disposable face masks and corn starch were the most inflated prices, jumping elevenfold from earlier in the year.
Below is a list of ten Amazon Essential products tracked, including the percentage the items increased in cost. Similar price rises were tracked among third party sellers on the platform as well.
Disposable face masks — 1,000%
Hand sanitizer — 48%
Disinfectant spray — 87%
Antibacterial soap — 470%
Disposable nitrile gloves — 336%
Toilet paper — 528%
Paper towels — 303%
Flour — 425%
Sugar — 520%
Corn starch — 1,010%
While there is no federal law protecting the public from the practice, price gouging is illegal in 35 states, with some states deeming that increasing prices by just 10 percent constitutes breaking the law. Thanks in no small part to increased profits from sales, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth almost double during the pandemic, from $113 billion in March to $206 billion today, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, who calculated that America’s billionaire class of 467 plutocrats have seen their wealth spike by nearly a trillion dollars since lockdown began on March 18. Much of this has been down to an enormous tax break for the ultra-wealthy that the Trump administration snuck into its first coronavirus relief bill. Bezos, who retook the title of the world’s richest individual from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates late last year, has said that he is so rich that he can only imagine spending his wealth by plowing it into space travel.
For the last five years, China’s central bank has been fighting to defend two key numbers: seven and three. Seven refers to the exchange rate between yuan and the US dollar – if the yuan weakens too much beyond seven to the US dollar, it would be regarded as a dangerous sign. Three refers to the level of China’s stockpile of foreign exchange reserves – if reserves dip below US$3 trillion, it would be seen as a sign of weakness. The context for the unannounced campaign to defend the two key figures is a deep concern over the rapid capital exodus that occurred after the sudden change in perceptions about China’s financial health and economic robustness following a devastating stock market rout in the summer of 2015, and Beijing’s subsequent clumsy steps to devalue the yuan by nearly 2 per cent.
As a result, Beijing changed its approach to outbound capital flows overnight – from a stance of tolerance and encouragement, to a ruthless crackdown. The restrictions on the ability of ordinary Chinese people to access foreign exchanges increased significantly, even though, on the surface, China maintains a policy that every citizen is entitled to buy up to US$50,000 worth of foreign currencies every year. With a lopsided foreign exchange policy of encouraging inflows and discouraging outflows, China has achieved its goal of avoiding a large yuan depreciation or an exodus of funds. But after five years of this defensive posture, there are signs that the tide could turn again. The dangers of capital outflow have eased as the Chinese economy has recovered rapidly from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
As many parts of the world are still struggling to rebound, China has become a favoured destination for both portfolio and long-term investment despite tensions with the United States. With the US Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary easing policy leading to a weaker US dollar, the yuan has become a safe bet for value. The time is ripe for Beijing to free up controls on the yuan’s convertibility with other currencies.The Chinese government can never realise its ambition of making the yuan a global currency, or even a potential rival to the US dollar, if it maintains rigid control on its use. With the US threatening China with financial sanctions, Beijing has recognised that it needs to reduce reliance on the US dollar, and the best way to do that is to free up the yuan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday support for Greece on migration in light of the destruction of the country’s largest migrant camp should be pan-European. “Greece has shouldered a lot of responsibility,” she said on Monday, adding that Athens has earned support. “We will make a substantive contribution,” she added, noting more migrants will be transferred to Germany. Bild newspaper reported on Monday that Berlin is considering taking in thousands of refugees from Moria as a one-off gesture and hopes the camp can be rebuilt and run by the European Union.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer are planning to take in around 1,500 refugees from the Greek islands, German news agency dpa reported on Tuesday. Dpa cited politicians focussed on domestic policy as saying that these would be families with children. More than 12,000 people, mostly refugees from Afghanistan, Africa and Syria, were left without shelter, proper sanitation or access to food and water after a fire tore through the overcrowded Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesvos last Wednesday.
From the editorial pages of the official media and the statements of leading politicians, the uninformed observer would have no idea that a world-famous Australian journalist is enduring extradition hearings that have been condemned as a legal travesty by rights’ organisations and United Nations representatives, or that he faces 175-years imprisonment for publishing evidence of war crimes. Because it is Britain that is staging the current show-trial of Julian Assange, and the US government that is seeking his destruction, the WikiLeaks publisher is largely being treated as a “non-person” by the Australian political and media establishment. Moreover, they, no less than their counterparts internationally, are committed to an agenda of militarism and escalating attacks on democratic rights, of which the persecution of Assange is a central component.
A week since British hearings for Assange’s extradition to the US resumed, his name does not appear to have passed the lips of a minister in the federal Liberal-National government or a prominent representative of the Labor Party opposition, publicly, at least. And nor does it seem that they have been asked by any members of the “fourth estate” about their silence. Not a single editorial in the establishment media has called for Assange to be defended. This includes outlets such as the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, and the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which regularly proclaim their commitment to “press freedom.” The disinterest is not because the British proceedings have been uneventful, or the attacks on Assange’s legal and democratic rights carefully concealed.
Last week’s hearings began with Assange emerging for the first time in months from Belmarsh Prison, a maximum-security facility, where he has been detained for the past year-and-a-half, even though he has not been convicted of a crime. There he has been imperiled by the coronavirus pandemic, with the authorities failing to provide him with such basic protection as a mask, as dozens of inmates and staff have contracted the potentially deadly-virus. Before the trial, Assange was “rearrested,” despite the fact that there had been no change to his incarceration. The reason was that, weeks out from the trial, a new “superseding” indictment was filed by US prosecutors. This was plainly aimed at overwhelming Assange’s lawyers with thousands of legal documents, after they had already finalised their defence case.
Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected a defence request that the additional material in the superseding indictment be excised. But she also dismissed a defence motion for a delay, to allow Assange’s lawyers to respond to the new allegations. Meanwhile, the US prosecutors have stated that the new material in the indictment, despite the fact that it does not contain additional charges, could itself be the basis for extradition. The US government is seeking to ensnare Assange in a Kafkaesque nightmare, where, even if extradition is blocked on the basis of the Espionage Act charges against him, he can still be dispatched to his American persecutors, based on the additional material in the new indictment, largely furnished by FBI informants, including a con-man previously convicted of impersonating Assange and stealing money from WikiLeaks.
China has the world’s highest number of internet users at over 854 million in 2019 according to the country’s Cyberspace Administration. However, its online world is confined within the so-called “Great Firewall”, and everything from criticism of the government to pornography is censored. Technology companies that run China’s social media platforms employ thousands of content moderators as censors and develop algorithms to prevent anything sensitive from being published or to quickly remove it, while foreign websites and social media platforms such Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are blocked.
[..] About 19 posts per 1,000 were removed – almost 700 from 37,226 – when China’s Centres for Disease Control published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 29 that indicated officials knew of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19 earlier than admitted. The authorities had previously claimed there was no evidence of human-to-human spread of the disease “so that’s why this was the top grievance”, Fu said. “There were a lot of people complaining and reacting to that paper.” News of the coronavirus became public on December 30, 2019, after screenshots from doctors’ chat groups warning about an unknown respiratory illness spread online. But police reprimanded some of the doctors who tried to raise the alarm, including Li Wenliang who later died from the disease, prompting a huge outpouring of public grief and anger.
Li’s death on February 7 prompted another spike in censorship with three posts per 1,000 – 117 out of 40,232 – relating to the topic being censored that day. Again, Fu said, what seemed like a low number was explained by the huge amount of posts and the fact that many would not have been detected by Weiboscope because they did not mention Li’s name to avoid the censors. Independent journalists have also been targeted, and two citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin are still missing after they disappeared in February after reporting from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in China.
Research published in the journal Nature last month estimated that if strong intervention had been taken against Covid-19 in China a week earlier, cases could have been “dramatically reduced” by 66 per cent. Acting three weeks earlier, at the start of January, would have reduced the number of cases by 95 per cent, according to the paper by scientists from China, the United States and Britain. “Early warnings allow governments to take early action,” Fu said. “We find evidence that social media posts including early warnings to the public were censored especially in the early stage of the pandemic.”
More than 140 scientists funded by Mark Zuckerberg have said Facebook should not be letting Donald Trump use the social media platform to “spread both misinformation and incendiary statements”. The researchers, who include more than 60 professors at leading US research institutions and one Nobel laureate, sent the Facebook CEO a letter on Saturday asking him to “consider stricter policies on misinformation and incendiary language that harms people”, especially during the current turmoil over racial injustice. The letter calls the spread of “deliberate misinformation and divisive language” contrary to the researchers’ goals of using technology to prevent and eradicate disease, improve childhood education and reform the criminal justice system.
Their mission “is antithetical to some of the stances that Facebook has been taking, so we’re encouraging them to be more on the side of truth and on the right side of history, as we’ve said in the letter”, said Debora Marks of Harvard Medical School, one of three professors who organized it. The others are Martin Kampmann of the University of California, San Francisco, and Jason Shepherd of the University of Utah. All have grants from a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative program working to prevent, cure and treat neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. They said the letter had more than 160 signatories. Shepherd said about 10% were employees of foundations run by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
The letter objects specifically to Zuckerberg’s decision not to act on a post by Trump that stated “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The letter’s authors called the post “a clear statement of inciting violence”.
The World Health Organization has identified Latin America as the new centre for coronavirus pandemic, but over the last two months, cases in Cuba have fallen. Cubans are now 24 times less likely to catch the virus than Dominicans, 27 times less likely to catch it than Mexicans, and more than 70 times less likely to be infected than Brazilians. Desperate for tourist revenue, Cuba closed its border later than most other countries in the region. But ever since the communist-ruled island shut out the outside world in late March, it has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the virus. The state has commanded tens of thousands of family doctors, nurses and medical students to “actively screen” all homes on the island for cases of Covid-19 – every single day.
That means that from Monday to Sunday, Dr Caballero and her medical students must walk for miles, monitoring the 328 families on her beat. “There’s no other country in the hemisphere that does anything approaching this,” said William Leogrande, professor of government at American University in Washington DC. “The whole organization of their healthcare system is to be in close touch with the population, identify health problems as they emerge, and deal with them immediately. “We know scientifically that quick identification of cases, contact tracing and quarantine are the only way to contain the virus in the absence of a vaccine – and because it begins with prevention, the Cuban health system is perfectly suited to carry out that containment strategy.”
Brazil’s government has stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections in an extraordinary move that critics call an attempt to hide the true toll of the disease in Latin America’s largest nation. The Saturday move came after months of criticism from experts saying Brazil’s statistics are woefully deficient, and in some cases manipulated, so it may never be possible to gain a real understanding of the depth of the pandemic in the country. Brazil’s last official numbers showed it had recorded over 34,000 deaths related to the coronavirus, the third-highest number in the world, just ahead of Italy. It reported nearly 615,000 infections, putting it at the second-highest, behind the United States. Brazil, with about 210 million people, is the globe’s seventh most populous nation.
On Friday, the federal Health Ministry took down a website that had showed daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths in Brazilian states. On Saturday, the site returned but the total numbers of infections for states and the nation were no longer there. The site now shows only the numbers for the previous 24 hours. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted Saturday that disease totals are “not representative” of the country’s current situation. A Bolsonaro ally contended to the newspaper O Globo that at least some states providing figures to the Health Ministry had sent falsified data, implying that they were exaggerating the toll. Carlos Wizard, a businessman expected to assume a high-level post in the Health Ministry, said the federal government would be conducting a review intended to determine a “more accurate” toll.
[..] A council of state health secretaries said it would fight the changes by Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and tried to thwart attempts to impose quarantines, curfews and social distancing, arguing those steps are causing more damage to the economy than the pandemic. “The authoritarian, insensitive, inhumane and unethical attempt to make the COVID-19 deaths invisible will not prosper,” the health secretaries council said Saturday.
China will increase international cooperation if it succeeds in developing a novel coronavirus vaccine, the science and technology minister said on Sunday. China would make a vaccine a “global public good” when it is ready, the minister, Wang Zhigang, told a news conference in Beijing.
[..] China is expending great efforts in the global scramble to develop a vaccine for the new coronaries epidemic that began in its central city of Wuhan, with Chinese researchers conducting five separate clinical trials on humans, or half of all such trials globally, according to the data compiled by the World Health Organization. President Xi Jinping vowed last month at the World Heath Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, that vaccines China’s develops will become a “global public good” once they are ready for use, and it will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.
Developing “a vaccine is still the fundamental strategy in our effort to overcome the new coronavirus,” Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang told a news conference in Beijing. But vaccine development is very difficult and takes time, he said, when asked how China would initially prioritise shots by country when a vaccine is found. “The rigour of vaccine development has been compared by some scientists to a dance involving precise steps and rehearsals,” Wang said.
In a display of public unity with ‘The Movement’ writ large, FBI officials took a knee to declare their woke allegiance with the protesting mobs. With that visible display we now have a better understanding of the motives behind a history of FBI failures. Setting aside the optic that some members of the FBI looking more like ‘meal-team-6’, there was always a suspicion the FBI were more concerned about political correctness than actually doing the work of a federal investigative agency. Historically the FBI has failed miserably to stop domestic terror threats; and when the investigative failures are researched there’s usually a prior connection between the attackers and the FBI.
The father of the Orlando Pulse nightclub terrorist, Omar Mateen, was a guy named Seddique Mateen (you might remember seeing him at the Hillary Clinton rally). After Omar killed 49 people it was discovered that Seddique had been an FBI informant for over eleven years (2005 to 2016). Similarly, after the Parkland school shooting, it was discovered the FBI was fully aware of Nikolas Cruz, yet again they had taken no action. The exact same scenario had played out several years earlier when the FBI was warned about the Tsarnaev brothers before the Boston Marathon Bombing 2013 and yet they did nothing to stop it.
The FBI is now a political agency with police powers within the federal government. The activity of Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, James Comey, Andrew McCabe and a host of very familiar names has shown just how important politics is within the institution. Indeed, as we saw in the ridiculous Hillary Clinton investigation, politics was the prism for every decision; and protecting their ideological tribe was the biggest concern within the agency. Understanding the sensitivity behind the FBI to the Muslim community; a sensitivity almost identical to the expressed position of the democrat party apparatus; it should not come as a big surprise to see FBI agents ignoring terror threats and simultaneously taking a knee to show their allegiance with Black Lives Matter.
The headline the Guardian used for this PA Media piece is “Banksy Supports Black Lives Matter With Latest Artwork”. But he doesn’t, or we don’t know if he does, not from his words. He supports black people, not some movement.
Banksy has shown his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system”. The graffiti artist wrote in an Instagram post: “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine. “People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs. “This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon is pledging to donate $100 million over five years to create a new center on racial equity following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died as a result of an arrest by Minneapolis police. In an email to employees Friday, McMillon condemned racial violence and said the company plans to make changes to fight for greater racial equity inside and outside of Walmart. “The global health crisis has tested all of us in recent months, and the racial violence in the U.S.— in particular, the murder of George Floyd — is tragic, painful and unacceptable,” McMillon wrote in the email. The Walmart CEO laid out several initiatives the company will undertake, including making the recruitment, development and support of African Americans inside the company “even more of a priority.”
The company will also invest in improving fairness, equity and justice in society broadly. “We will find the natural overlaps between Walmart’s core business and society’s larger needs that perpetuate racism and discrimination,” McMillon wrote. “Specifically, we’re going to focus the power of Walmart on our nation’s financial, healthcare, education and criminal justice systems.” McMillon said the center focused on racial equity “will seek to advance economic opportunity and healthier living, including issues surrounding the social determinants of health, strengthening workforce development and related educational systems, and support criminal justice reform with an emphasis on examining barriers to opportunity faced by those exiting the system.”
There were clear problems with Friday’s “incredible” – as Trump put it – jobs report. First and foremost the BLS’ own admission there was a “survey error” which may have reduced the real unemployment rate by up to 3% as survey-takers mistakenly counted about 4.9 million temporarily laid-off people as employed, then moving through some very aggressive statistical assumption revisions to boost the “birth/death” model, the curious case of millions of “jobs” resurrected temporarily thanks to the PPP program: as recruitment firm LaSalle Network head Tom Gimbel said, today’s jobs report may offer a “false ray of light” because almost all job gains stemmed from furloughed employees kept on the books due to PPP loans (he said he was seeing real weakness in new hiring).
But even if one accepts the report at its face, if one digs beneath the glossy veneer, the details are anything but “incredible” as described by the president. Start with Trump’s “incredible” V-shaped rebound: after the 2.5mm new jobs added, total US employment is basically where it was at the depth of the financial crisis, while 21 million workers find themselves unemployed – this number was 6 million just two months ago. Putting that number in context, with roughly 133 million employed workers, there are a record 102 million Americans who are not in the labor force, of whom 92.7 million don’t even want a job.
Among those who were lucky enough to remain in the work force, millions were shifted from full to part-time.
[..] And here is the catalyst for the next round of social discontent: women unemployment is now far higher than that of men after being roughly the same before covid: how long before accusation of rampant employer sexism are the next big thing?
“Never say never” on the European Central Bank one day buying shares rather than government or corporate bonds, but it has not discussed the idea yet, ECB Governing Council member Robert Holzmann said in comments published on Sunday. The ECB on Thursday announced a bigger-than-expected expansion of its stimulus package to prop up an economy plunged by the coronavirus pandemic into its worst recession since World War Two. Holzmann took over as head of the Austrian National Bank just last year but has already been outspoken on various issues, calling for the ECB to lower its often-undershot inflation target and warning against negative rates. He also says he initially suggested that Thursday’s decision be put off.
“Never say never. If the need is there, this discussion will definitely have to take place. But currently that discussion does not exist,” Holzmann told newspaper Die Presse when asked if the ECB could start buying shares. On lowering the inflation target from just under 2%, Holzmann said he could still change his stance in a discussion that the ECB has pushed back because of the pandemic. “If it is difficult to get from 1.5% to 1.9%, then in a time of low inflation expectations one can also set oneself a different target, although I myself have not yet formed a final opinion here,” Holzmann said. “The fundamental discussion on ECB strategy has been postponed because of the crisis and should be taken up again as of the summer,” he added.
In a new series based on the beloved “Looney Tunes” cartoons, the classic character Elmer Fudd will no longer carry a gun. The new series “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” which premiered last week on the streaming service HBO Max, will feature the cartoon’s characteristic violence – using sticks of dynamite, booby traps and the iconic anvils and bank safes dropped onto characters, The New York Times reported last week. However, Peter Browngardt, the series executive producer and showrunner, told the outlet, “We’re not doing guns.” “But we can do cartoony violence — TNT, the Acme stuff. All that was kind of grandfathered in,” Browngardt told the outlet.
Elmer Fudd is regularly foiled trying to hunt Bugs Bunny on the show. In the new series, the character will carry a scythe. However, comics artist Johnny Ryan, who worked on the show, noted to the Times that he believes “We’re going through this wave of anti-bullying, everybody needs to be friends, everybody needs to get along.” “‘Looney Tunes’ is pretty much the antithesis of that,” he said. “It’s two characters in conflict, sometimes getting pretty violent.”
Mexico will not join other top oil producers in extending through July output cuts aimed at propping up the price of crude, Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said on Saturday. Made up of OPEC members and allies led by Russia, the group known as OPEC+ agreed in April to cut oil supply by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June to support prices. Under that deal, Mexico pledged to reduce its crude output by 100,000 bpd in May and June, after resisting pressure from other oil producers to make cuts of 400,000 bpd. The cuts had been due to taper to 7.7 million bpd from July to December, but on Saturday, OPEC+ agreed to extend the production cuts until the end of July.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to ramp up the country’s crude oil production, said on Friday that Mexico was not in a position to make additional cuts on top of what it had agreed in April. His energy minister Rocio Nahle confirmed Mexico would not participate in the fresh cuts agreed on Saturday. “There are other countries that extended their cuts to July, in this case we said no, we’ll stick to the agreement that we signed in April,” she told reporters in the eastern state of Veracruz. “There’s no problem.”
In what would be a monumental move — and we might ad good for independent media breaking the shackles of the mainstream’s ongoing attempts to police content and punish dissent — Google’s total dominance over online advertising could soon come to an end. CNBC revealed Friday that no less than 50 sate attorneys general have been investigating Google’s business practices as part of a months long probe alongside a parallel DOJ effort, and momentum is gaining toward a looming major antitrust lawsuit against the internet giant. Leading the probe among the states is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who did not comment in Friday’s CNBC report.
Google, however, did respond, with a Google spokesperson rebutting with, “The facts are clear, our digital advertising products compete across a crowded industry with hundreds of rivals and technologies, and have helped lower costs for advertisers and consumers.” President Trump has lately put big tech in the spotlight over allegations of targeted censorship of conservative content, lately signing an executive order which seeks to reduce liability protections of major internet companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google. Independent and alternative voices have also long complained of being demonetized or unfairly targeted for analysis and commentary falling outside of accepted ‘groupthink’.
It remains that the bulk of Google’s some $161 billion in revenue comes via ad sales, with a far smaller amount coming through products the tech giant and its parent company Alphabet Inc. are traditionally known for: software and technology. CNBC summarizes what’s at stake as follows: “Critics have said that Google bundles its ad tools so that rivals can’t afford to match its offerings and that its operation of search results, YouTube, Gmail and other services to hinder ad competition. They also say that Google owns all sides of the “auction exchange” through which ads are sold and bought, giving it an unfair advantage.” But a key legal obstacle the courts would have to consider is the fact that Google’s ad group doesn’t function as a stand alone business, but is made up of Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager.
The Palm Beach judge who has thus far refused to release grand jury records in the Jeffrey Epstein case has both professional and family ties to three of the politicians who have a stake in keeping those records secret, the Miami Herald has learned. Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges.
Special prosecutors appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went to court in January to unseal records of Krischer’s secret 2006 state grand jury presentment in the case. Prosecutors wanted to examine whether Krischer’s office told the panel the full scope of Epstein’s crimes, or whether state prosecutors kept key evidence from the grand jury. The grand jury returned a minor charge of solicitation of prostitution against Epstein, who later managed to negotiate a lenient plea deal, resulting in him serving 13 months in the Palm Beach County Jail, much of at his lavish office in West Palm Beach, thanks to generous work-release provisions.
Last year, following a series of stories in the Miami Herald detailing the machinations behind Epstein’s plea deal, DeSantis ordered a state criminal probe focusing on Krischer’s decision not to prosecute and on Bradshaw’s role in helping Epstein maintain an opulent lifestyle — including having sex with women — while subject to sheriff’s custody on sex charges. But Marx in January rejected the criminal prosecutors’ effort to unseal the grand jury records, calling it a “fishing expedition.’’ Then on Wednesday, she rebuffed a similar request by attorneys representing the Post, who sued Aronberg, and the county clerk, Sharon Bock, for release of the records.
Marx was dismissive of the Post’s lawsuit against Aronberg, who has denied he has custody of the grand jury records; and Bock, who has custody of the records but won’t release them without a court order. Marx, however, did not disclose from the bench that Krischer was her former boss, that her daughter works for Aronberg as an assistant state attorney and that her son works for Bradshaw as a sheriff’s deputy. Marx’s husband, Palm Beach County Judge Joe Marx, has a disclosure on his county web page stating he would recuse himself from any cases that involve his two stepchildren. Krista Marx’s county web page does not have such a disclosure.
In March, I called on the US to impose a strict five-week national lockdown with internal and external travel restrictions to bring us to near zero infections. While measures were taken in many parts of the country, it was too little, too late. Now, I and many others are issuing another warning: the decisions of some US governors to prematurely ease social distancing is a disastrous mistake and citizens need to ignore them. Our research — and common sense — show that lifting social restrictions will lead to an explosion of Covid-19 cases and cause countless more deaths. The correct way to relax restrictions is to start with parts of a state that are Covid-free for 14 days and allow only essential travel to those parts of the state with 14-day quarantines for inbound travelers. Why will going along with reopening lead to catastrophe?
First, we must understand that coronavirus is very deadly. Those who claim the death rate is exaggerated are plain wrong and downplaying the emergency. While death rate estimates have varied, recent data from China, the United Kingdom and France, reflecting deaths outside hospitals, including in nursing homes, puts the Covid-19 global fatality rate at around 6.8%, based upon analysis we did at endcoronavirus.org, using data from Johns Hopkins University. Second, almost all reopening states, from California to Pennsylvania, currently have a critical mass of new cases of existing infections that could see new outbreaks in the coming days and weeks. Third, without extreme preventive measures, we’ve seen how coronavirus infections doubled every two to three days at one point in different areas — which equated to about a tenfold increase per week.
That means that a state with 1,000 new cases could have well over 100,000 more in two weeks, if social distancing is loosened. States like Texas have announced precautions to mitigate harm from reopening with measures like limiting restaurants and shopping malls to operating at a 25% or 50% capacity depending on the amount of cases in their areas. But we know from months of studying this disease that communities need more aggressive measures to stop the exponential spread of Covid-19. We prevented the contagion from being much worse by putting in place protective measures throughout the US. We expanded testing capacity. We ramped up our hospitals’ capacity to care for critically ill patients. But this “flattening the curve” isn’t enough. If we lighten up on our protective measures now, all the progress we’ve made will vanish, and we’ll suffer an enormous setback. We need to push even harder to win.
Note the response to masks. Some people are "libertarians" because of a mental defect, a combination of severe inhibition of logical faculties coupled with sociopathic behaviors.
2) Many small professional resets: learned to lecture on Zoom. Learned to set up a blackboard behind me for illustrations. Of course could start a business along these lines. Universities are going out of business & there is something to grab as they are too incompetent to adapt.
Senate Republicans flatly rejected a $3 trillion coronavirus aid package House Democrats introduced Tuesday and said they’ll wait to decide whether more legislation is necessary. “If we reach a decision, along with the administration to move to another phase, that’ll be the time to interact with the Democrats,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “But what you’ve seen in the House is not something designed to deal with reality but designed to deal with aspirations. This is not a time for aspirational legislation. This is a time for practical response to the coronavirus pandemic.” Democrats blasted McConnell’s reaction to the massive bill.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, accused McConnell of ignoring the desperate needs of people out of work and left without paychecks. “We need big, bold action, and yet, Leader McConnell seems totally divorced from that reality,” Schumer said. “We need to act in a big and bold way. The House has started the ball rolling. Republicans and the president ought to understand that and help us move in a big, bold way, not stand in the way.” The House measures are massive in both cost and scope. It provides new $1,200 cash payments to individuals and more than $1 trillion to state, local, and municipal governments. It includes a bailout for troubled state pensions and the U.S. Postal Service and “hazard pay” for healthcare workers and other workers who are unable to stay at home during the coronavirus.
Republicans have no appetite for the wide-ranging measure, they said. Congress has already enacted $2.8 trillion in federal coronavirus relief aid, and both the GOP and President Trump say they plan to wait for that funding to roll out and for economies to begin reopening before assessing the need for new federal spending legislation. Sen. John Thune, the majority whip, said the House bill “is nothing more than a messaging exercise by the House Democrats.” The South Dakota Republican said the bill “is not going anywhere” and said the Senate “will be working in a bipartisan way with the White House” when considering new coronavirus funding.
House Democrats are proposing a $2,000-a-month stimulus payment for individuals 16 and older to help them during the coronavirus. Reps. Ro Khanna of California and Tim Ryan of Ohio have introduced the proposal as stand-alone legislation titled the Emergency Money for the People Act. A spokesperson for Ryan’s office told Just The News on Tuesday that he is working with House leadership to include his bill in future coronavirus stimulus legislation. The Khanna-Ryan proposal would provide the monthly payments to qualified recipients for one year. To qualify, individual recipients must make less than $130,000 annually and couples filing joint tax returns would have to make less than $260,000.
The proposal has 37 co-sponsors including Reps. Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, and Ted Lieu, of California. Khanna’s office said 16-year-olds would not have to file tax returns to qualify for the $2,000 per month. “They would have to fill out an online form that must be accessible via mobile phone to fill out” with their Venmo, Paypal, “other mobile money or direct deposit” information, a Khanna spokesperson said. Khanna’s office also told Just The News that illegal immigrants and non-citizens who file tax returns with tax ID numbers would qualify for the monthly direct payments in the bill.
The Heroes Act, the new coronavirus relief bill introduced by House Democrats on Tuesday, includes protections for employer-sponsored insurance plans, which the health care industry has been lobbying Congress on for weeks. The proposed legislation includes subsidies for continued coverage for furloughed workers and people using COBRA, a continuing health coverage plan for those who have lost work, even if they don’t pay their premiums. The bill also creates avenues for premium assistance for certain categories of people who want to pay those premiums anyway and would open a special insurance enrollment period a week from the date it’s enacted into law. It also provides nine months of premium payments to health insurance plan administrators who don’t receive them during the ongoing pandemic.
The push to protect insurance premiums comes as some health care companies, like UnitedHealth, Humana, and Cigna, have reported profits during the pandemic amid record-high unemployment levels and have boasted that they don’t expect to take a financial hit. In late April, dozens of industry groups — including the influential, conservative Chamber of Commerce — sent a letter to congressional leadership asking for direct subsidies for COBRA, expanding uses for health savings accounts, and increasing eligibility to access health insurance marketplaces.
A couple of weeks earlier, the nations’ second-largest health insurance lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans, joined a congressional call with members of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Caucus to ask for protections for employer coverage. According to two sources familiar with the April 13 call, AHIP’s CEO discussed the importance of protecting employer-sponsored plans. One person on the call, who works for an insurer and was not authorized to speak publicly about the conversation, said AHIP’s push for targeted relief to employers who pay premiums to insurance companies was puzzling, given that insurance companies have seen recent profits.
Fossil fuel companies and coal-powered utilities in the US are set for a potential bonanza under federal government plans for a bond bailout, part of the rescue package for the coronavirus crisis. At least 90 fossil fuel companies, many of them established giants such as ExxonMobil, Chevron and Koch Industries, stand to gain from the Federal Reserve’s coronavirus bond buyback programme, alongside more than 150 utilities including coal-heavy firms such as American Electric Power and Duke Energy, according to a new analysis. The bond buyback scheme is expected to be worth at least $750bn altogether and to benefit thousands of companies by the end of September, and the size of the payout that could go to fossil fuels and utilities is as yet unknown.
The scheme is to be discussed in the US Senate on Tuesday. Jason Disterhoft, a senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network, which conducted the study, said public money should be used to bail out companies only with strict conditions attached. “Our concern is that these recovery funds should be prioritising people and communities and they are going instead to big companies to pay down their debts,” he said. Ten out of the top 40 fracking companies would be eligible to apply, according to the analysis, which examined all US fossil fuel companies and energy utilities to check whether they would qualify under the published scheme rules. It is not known whether any of these companies will apply for the support, though many are expected to do so.
The latest forecast here from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflects “key drivers of viral transmission like changes in testing and mobility, as well as easing of distancing policies,” the report said. The revision reinforced public health warnings, including U.S. Senate testimony on Tuesday from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, that prematurely lifting lockdowns could lead to more outbreaks of the respiratory virus. Fauci and other medical experts have urged caution in relaxing restraints on commerce before diagnostic testing and the ability to trace close contacts of infected individuals can be vastly expanded, along with other safeguards.
IHME researchers acknowledged that precise consequences of moves to reopen shuttered businesses and loosen stay-at-home orders are difficult to gauge. “The full potential effects of recent actions to ease social distancing policies, especially if robust containment measures have yet to be fully scaled up, may not be fully known for a few weeks due to the time periods between viral exposure, possible infection and full disease progression,” the report said. COVID-19 has already claimed nearly 81,000 lives in the United States, out of more than 1.36 million known infections, according to a Reuters tally.
[..] The projections are presented as a range, with the latest forecast – 147,00-plus deaths – representing the average between a best-case scenario of 102,783 lives lost and a worst-case scenario of 223,489 fatalities. The forecasts have fluctuated over the past couple of months, with a projected death toll as low as 60,000 on April 18.
Gilead Sciences Inc said on Tuesday it has signed non-exclusive licensing pacts with five generic drugmakers based in India and Pakistan to expand the supply of its experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir. The pacts allow the companies – Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd, Cipla Ltd , Hetero Labs Ltd, Mylan NV and Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd – to make and sell the drug in 127 countries. The countries consist of nearly all low-income and lower-middle income ones, as well as several that are upper-middle- and high-income, the drugmaker said. Afghanistan, India, North Korea, Pakistan and South Africa are among the countries.
The licensees will also set their own prices for the generic product they produce, Gilead said. The licenses are royalty-free until the World Health Organization declares the end of the public health emergency regarding COVID-19, or until a product other than remdesivir or a vaccine is approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, the company said. Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir earlier this month received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 patients.
Mexico’s health ministry confirmed 1,997 new cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, along with 353 additional deaths, the most deadly day since the pandemic began. The new infections brought confirmed coronavirus cases to 38,324 and 3,926 deaths in total, according to the official tally. Mexico’s previous highest daily death toll was on Thursday, when Mexico reported 257 fatalities.
Cuba has begun mass testing for coronavirus as it appeared to have contained infections, amid a partial shutdown that has exacerbated a shortage of basic goods. New cases have fallen to fewer than 20 per day from a peak of around 50 in April. Since the first Covid-19 illness was reported two months ago, there have been 1,804 confirmed cases, of which 70.7% have recovered and 78 people have died. Cuba has closed its borders and the tourism industry, schools and public transportation. Masks are mandatory and eating at restaurants, bars and social gatherings prohibited. Cubans have been urged to stay at home and practice social distancing.
But the public has not been confined to quarters and has taken to trudging about in search of basic supplies, waiting in long lines and even dusting off bicycles from the dark days following the fall of the Soviet Union. [..] While Communist-run Cuba’s universal and free healthcare system has proved key in containing Covid-19, the pandemic has exacerbated shortages of basic goods and a chaotic retail system caused largely by US sanctions and the centralized, state-dominated economy. Cuba’s top epidemiologist, Francisco Durán, said on Monday that mass testing would help better define the prevalence of the coronavirus as many people found to be infected showed no symptoms.
“The objective is to find new cases and then intervene, isolate, seek contacts, and take all possible measures to ensure that Cuba continues as it is now,” he said during his daily virus update broadcast to the nation. Many experts believe Cuba has managed to control the outbreak better than many countries in the region due to its well-staffed preventive healthcare system, mobilization of activists to track cases, a centralized system that allows a better focus, and willingness to quarantine large numbers of people. Cuban scientists announced last week they had adapted a computerized system developed locally to quickly detect antibodies of the new virus, allowing for mass testing in hospitals and clinics at little cost. Until now, the Caribbean island nation has used expensive tests – often donated – that take days to process, old-fashioned door knocking by health personnel and medical students to trace contacts, and isolation.
[..] there is no unchecked, devastating COVID-19 epidemic in Hong Kong. The city beat back the original wave, and also beat back a second resurgence due to imported cases. But unlike in Taiwan or South Korea, this success can’t be attributed to an executive that acted early and with good governance backed by the people. The secret sauce of Hong Kong’s response was its people and, crucially, the movement that engulfed the city in 2019. Seared with the memory of SARS, and already mobilized for the past year against their unpopular government, the city’s citizens acted swiftly, collectively, and efficiently, in effect saving themselves. [..]
On the very day the first known coronavirus case in Hong Kong was announced, the same protest team behind the candidate information sites immediately created a new website—this time to track cases of COVID-19, monitor hot spots, warn people of places selling fake PPE, and report hospital wait times and other relevant information. Many of the key information sources for Hong Kong protesters had been anonymous channels in the popular app Telegram and their own online forums. These anonymous formats protected the protesters from government repression but created a constant threat of misinformation, as someone could always pretend to be a protester or just be wrong or trolling.
Consequently, the protesters learned to become incessant fact-checkers, used to looking up multiple sources and critically analyzing information. Now they turned their powers to critical analysis to the coronavirus: criticizing their own officials, as well as the World Health Organization, which did not advise wearing masks or travel restrictions, and China, which they saw as covering up the initial epidemic (they were right on all counts). In response to the crisis, Hong Kongers spontaneously adopted near-universal masking on their own, defying the government’s ban on masks. When Lam oscillated between not wearing a mask in public and wearing one but incorrectly, they blasted her online and mocked her incorrect mask wearing.
In response to the mask shortage, the foot soldiers of the protest movement set up mask brigades—acquiring and distributing masks, especially to the poor and elderly, who may not be able to spend hours in lines. An “army of volunteers” also spread among the intensely crowded and often decrepit tenement buildings to install and keep filled hand-sanitizer dispensers. When the government refused at first to close the border with mainland China, more than 7,000 medical workers went on an unprecedented strike, demanding border closures and PPE for hospital workers. This strike was only possible because labor unions were formed during the protests. Now they came in handy for collective action.
The risk of an uneven economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis poses an “existential threat” to the European Union, one of its most senior economic policymakers has said. Paolo Gentiloni, a former Italian prime minister and now the EU’s economy commissioner, said the bloc also had a “historic opportunity” as it charts a plan to rescue Europe’s economy. In an interview a few days after the commission said Europe had entered “the deepest economic recession in its history”, Gentiloni said the EU needed a “sound recovery plan” to avoid the risks of economic division. Shuttered shops and factories, grounded planes and stay-at-home consumers as a result of lockdown restrictions mean the EU economy is expected to shrink by 7.5% in 2020, a deeper fall than the 2009 financial crisis.
Gentiloni is concerned that countries do not have the same resources to recover from this economic shock. The hardest hit countries – Greece, Italy, Spain and Croatia – face falls in economic output (GDP) in excess of 9% in 2020, while Germany’s economy is set to contract by 6.5% and Austria’s by 5.5%. Meanwhile countries have varying levels of state resources to rescue ailing companies and pay workers’ wages – emergency measures that have become easier since Brussels relaxed state aid rules to deal with the crisis. Gentiloni said state aid requests from EU member states were very imbalanced.
“What is clear is the uneven level of the recovery and the risks this creates to our single market and the necessary convergence, especially within the euro area. This is something that I could even define as an existential threat to the building of the Union,” he told a group of European newspapers, including the Guardian. “If we want to look from a more optimistic way it is not only an existential threat but also in some sense a historic opportunity to fill the void we have in common tools of economic and fiscal policies.”
China’s passenger numbers fell 68.5% in April from a year ago, for a drop smaller than in March, the aviation regulator said on Wednesday, pointing to a fragile industry recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as other nations reopen economies. The global tourism industry is closely watching trends in China for clues to travel patterns in other major markets as countries race to lift travel curbs. Air passengers numbered 16.72 million in April, Xiong Jie, a spokesman of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, told an online news conference. That compared with a decline of 71.7% on the year in March, when passengers numbered 15.13 million.
China’s tourism sector showed encouraging signs of recovery over the May Day holiday with 115 million trips made, many by car and by younger people emerging from weeks of virus lockdown measures. More than 30% of capacity has returned in the Chinese domestic market in the last two months, aviation data provider Cirium said on Tuesday. But the number of passenger flights in China has not yet recovered to 60% of the levels seen in past years, Jin Junhao, another CAAC official, sadi during Wednesday’s conference.
The top three U.S. airlines have told their flight attendants not to force passengers to comply with their new policy requiring face coverings, just encourage them to do so, according to employee policies reviewed by Reuters. American Airlines , Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have told employees that they may deny boarding at the gate to anyone not wearing a face covering, and are providing masks to passengers who do not have them, the three carriers told Reuters. Inside the plane, enforcement becomes more difficult.
“Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy,” American told its pilots in a message seen by Reuters explaining its policy, which went into effect on Monday. “Bottom line to the pilots: a passenger on board your aircraft who is being compliant with the exception of wearing a face covering is NOT considered disruptive enough to trigger a Threat Level 1 response,” referring to some kind of intentional disruption by a passenger that could cause the captain to divert the flight. American spokesman Joshua Freed said: “American, like other U.S. airlines, requires customers to wear a face covering while on board, and this requirement is enforced at the gate while boarding. We also remind customers with announcements both during boarding and at departure.”
[..] U.S. travel demand has fallen by about 94% in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting carriers to slash their flying schedules to roughly 30% of normal this month. With fewer planes in the skies, some are flying near capacity. Global airlines body IATA came out last week in favor of passengers wearing masks onboard, as debate intensifies in the United States on the role that government agencies should play in mandating new safety measures for flying before a vaccine is developed.
During President Trump’s impeachment, former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified to Congress that she knew little beyond an initial briefing and “press reports” about Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural gas firm that had hired Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and was dogged by a corruption investigation. “It just wasn’t a big deal,” she declared under oath on Oct. 11, 2019. But newly unearthed State Department memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show Yovanovitch’s embassy in Kiev, including the ambassador herself, was engaged in several discussions and meetings about Burisma as the gas firm scrambled during the 2016 election and transition to settle a long-running corruption investigation and polish its image before President Trump took office.
Yovanovitch, for instance, was specifically warned in an email by her top deputy in September 2016 — three years before her testimony — that Burisma had hired an American firm with deep Democratic connections called Blue Star Strategies to “rehabilitate the reputation” of the Ukrainian gas firm and that it had placed “Hunter Biden on its board,” the memos show. She also met directly with a representative for Burisma in her embassy office, less than 45 days before Trump took office, a contact she did not mention during her impeachment deposition. The discussions about Burisma inside Yovanovitch’s embassy were so extensive, in fact, that they filled more than 160 pages of emails, memos and correspondence in fall 2016 alone, according to the State Department records obtained under FOIA by the conservative group Citizens United.
[..] The impeachment hearings last fall, which focused on efforts by Trump and his lawyer Rudy Guiliani to find evidence inside Ukraine on the Bidens and Burisma and to remove Yovanovitch from her job as U.S. ambassador, included testimony from Yovanovitch herself. During that deposition in October 2016, she made no mention of direct contact with Burisma representatives and instead suggested her knowledge about the company and its legal travails was limited mostly to a briefing she received in preparation for Senate confirmation as ambassador in summer 2016 and subsequent news media reports.
US District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Tuesday delayed a decision on whether to dismiss Michael Flynn’s conviction for lying, indicating he plans to allow for the submission of outside opinions in the form of amicus curiae briefs. Last week, the Justice Department moved to drop the charges against Trump’s former national security advisor, but the judge’s plan to allow for the submission of friend of the court briefs means that the case will not be closed immediately. Sullivan has not issued a decision on the DOJ’s request to drop the charges. Flynn’s legal team blasted the idea of allowing for the submission of amicus briefs, which allow for parties interested in but not involved in a case to present their views.
“It is no accident that amicus briefs are excluded in criminal cases,” Flynn’s lawyers wrote in a filing according to The Hill. “A criminal case is a dispute between the United States and a criminal defendant. There is no place for third parties to meddle in the dispute, and certainly not to usurp the role of the government’s counsel. For the Court to allow another to stand in the place of the government would be a violation of the separation of powers.” Flynn in 2017 pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but later sought to withdraw his guilty plea. Evidence that has since emerged suggested the FBI had no case against Flynn but set up an interview in hopes it would catch him lying, his lawyers and Justice officials have said.
We try to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. Since their revenue has collapsed, ads no longer pay for all you read, and your support is now an integral part of the process.
Hey, @McConaughey! My guy @HenryRodgersDC and I would love to hop on zoom with you for the @DailyCaller, drink a beer and figure out a way to save lives/raise awareness during the coronavirus pandemic.
Pietro Lorenzetti Jesus enters Jerusalem 1320 (Basilica of St Francis of Assisi)
“And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, Who is this? And the multitudes said, This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” – Matthew 21:10-11 #PalmSunday
A lot of people still don’t seem to get the concept of exponential growth, even though we’ve had over two months of watching an exponential process unfold with the Coronavirus. I hope some simple illustrations using current data might help. John Hopkins University is doing an excellent job of collating the cumulative number of cases reported around the world with its GIS database Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). They’ve made the raw time series data available too. Aggregated to the world level, this is what cumulative COVID-19 cases looked like as of late on April 4th:
This is simply the total number of recorded cases, which includes tested cases where the carrier has only mild symptoms, people who got the disease way back when it began and have since recovered, those who have died, those who are still in intensive care, etc. The global total was just over 1.2 million on April 4th. A simple regression of this data onto an exponential function yields the prediction that, if the rate of transmission and the rate of doubling of the disease reflects what has happened to date from January 21st, when the JHU time series begins, in a week’s time there will be twice as many cases: 2.5 million compared to today’s 1.2 million.
That’s a lot of cases, but it’s still way short of the total world population of about 7.5 billion. It took about ten weeks to go from 555 cases (the number recorded on January 21st at the start of this data series) to over 1 million. How long will it take to get to a significant number compared to the planet’s population—say, half a billion cases? It will take about another 8 weeks.
The red line in each of these graphs is the same red line. Now only a fraction of those infected are going to be current cases—basically, those who were identified in the preceding 2-4 weeks—and only a fraction of those—perhaps about 20%–are going to require hospitalization. But that’s still a huge number of people, far more than can be handled in the world’s emergency medical facilities. This is why this disease is not “just another flu”. It is far more contagious (and we also don’t have any innate resistance to it). We have to “Flatten the curve”, we can’t cope with the number of cases doubling every week, as is the case now.
Day after day we see startling and quickly rising numbers of confirmed COVID-19 infections. They’re scary. But the true scope of the pandemic is almost certainly scarier. Confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the real spread. In most communities, only the sickest patients are being tested so most people with mild symptoms and those that are asymptomatic go untested and unreported. The real number of people who have been infected by the virus almost certainly dwarfs the cases we know about. And the public winds up with a distorted picture of how prevalent the virus is, often tragically. When there is exponential growth, every unreported case matters even more, as a handful cases can quickly grow to thousands within a few weeks.
And it’s doubtful that most people recognize how seriously confirmed cases underreport the real situation. Knowing that there are ten confirmed cases in your neighborhood now doesn’t mean there are only ten cases that you can come in contact with. The reality could well be that there are actually a hundred cases, ten that were tested and confirmed, fifty that have not yet shown symptoms and not yet been tested, another forty that have been tested and still are waiting on their results. In just a few days, that total could as much as double, depending on the county you live in, because of the speed at which the disease tends to spread. (Right now, the number of confirmed cases in New York city is doubling every two and a half days).
Armed with estimates of the actual scope of the problem from expert epidemiologists, far fewer people would engage in unsafe behavior. If this more useful information were being reported, the beaches during spring break might have been emptier. We can’t get past this until we have had stringent lockdowns for long enough for our healthcare workers to catch up. And we can’t expect citizens to respect stringent lockdown orders unless they have clear and accurate information, not just the data that are most conveniently available. That means getting accurate estimates out is critical. We urge governments and epidemiologists to start publishing estimates of current cases, which would include both confirmed and not yet discovered infections, and we urge the media to start asking for them–and reporting them, daily.
Some of the groundwork is already in place in models that project deaths based on factors such as population density, current testing capacities and methodologies, false negative rates, death rates (and criteria for reporting them), and mitigation strategies. By deriving estimates of currentcases from these models and making those estimates more explicit, and widely available, we can help people and governments make better decisions. No one single estimate will be perfect, but without any readily available sources, we are running almost entirely blind.
Japan is considering increasing the stockpile of Fujifilm Holding Corp’s Avigan anti-flu drug during this fiscal year so it can be used to treat 2 million people, according to a planning document seen by Reuters. Local media reported on Sunday that Japan was hoping to triple the production of the drug from current levels, which is enough to treat 700,000 people if used by coronavirus patients. Avigan, also known as Favipiravir, is manufactured by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, which has a healthcare arm although it is better known for its cameras. The drug was approved for use in Japan in 2014. Avigan is being tested in China as a treatment for COVID-19.
In the emergency stimulus package expected to be rolled out on Tuesday, the government also planned to prioritise the clinical trial process of the drug so it can be formally approved to be used in treating coronavirus patients. According to the document, Japan also plans to boost subsidies to domestic companies that supply masks and disinfectants and will secure enough capacity to supply 700 million masks a month. The Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday that in efforts to reduce its dependence on China as its manufacturing hub, it will subsidise companies that will move some of their production facilities back to Japan.
Mainland China reported 30 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, up from 19 a day earlier as the number of cases involving travellers from abroad as well as local transmissions increased, highlighting the difficulty in stamping out the outbreak. The National Health Commission said in a statement on Sunday that 25 of the latest cases involved people who had entered from abroad, compared with 18 such cases a day earlier. Five new locally transmitted infections were also reported on Saturday, all in the southern coastal province of Guangdong, up from a day earlier. The mainland has now reported a total of 81,669 cases, while the death toll has risen by three to 3,329.
Though daily infections have fallen dramatically from the height of the epidemic in February, when hundreds of new cases were reported daily, Beijing remains unable to completely halt new infections despite imposing some of the most drastic measures to curb the virus’ spread. The so-called imported cases and asymptomatic patients, who have the virus and can give it to others but show no symptoms, have become among China’s chief concerns in recent weeks. The country has closed off its borders to almost all foreigners as the virus spread globally, though most of the imported cases involve Chinese nationals returning from overseas.
There may be some good news on the coronavirus horizon, as Scripps Research reported it may have found COVID-19’s Achilles heel. The research shows a specific area of the virus could be “targeted with drugs and other therapies, a finding that also could help with the development of a vaccine,” according to the San Diego Tribune. The targeted area, according to biologist Ian Wilson, who led the scientific team, “is crucial to spreading the highly contagious virus, and … its composition suggests that it would be vulnerable to drugs.” The discovery was published Friday in the journal Science and comes as scientists globally are working feverishly to find a vaccine or cure for the pandemic that has devastated global markets and caused more than 63,000 deaths worldwide.
An antibody taken from a SARS patient years earlier was used in the discovery, as researchers realized it had attached itself to a specific part of the virus, and were able to repeat the phenomenon with COVID-19, helping to identify a coronavirus weakness, according to the report. “That high degree of similarity implies that the site has an important function that would be lost if it mutated significantly,” Scripps Research said in a statement Friday. Sadly, the weak spot isn’t easy to find. “We found that this (spot) is usually hidden inside the virus, and only exposed when that part of the virus changes its structure, as it would in natural infection,” Wilson’s colleague, Meng Yuan, said in a statement.
In the United States, many people who live paycheck to paycheck are worried that they won’t be able to afford housing or basic necessities during the shutdown. There has been a freeze on mortgages in most places, but these conditions overlook renters, who are often-times the most vulnerable. Many renters and activists across the country have called for a rent strike for the month of April, but some landlords have taken it upon themselves to help out their tenants. Mario Salerno, of Brooklyn, New York, owns 18 apartment buildings, and has told his renters to not worry about paying rent during the shutdown, but to instead make sure that all of their other needs are covered. Salerno told the New York Times that his main concern is the health of his tenants.
He said he had about 200 to 300 tenants in total, and estimates that he will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in income during the month of April. Salerno isn’t the only one, this type of rent forgiveness is happening across the country. A landlord in Jonesboro, Arkansas, made a post on social media last month saying that his company would not expect its restaurants to pay rent during the shutdown, and suggested that they continue to pay their employees instead. Young Investment Company owns properties that are home to some of the area’s most popular restaurants, including Eleanor’s Pizzeria, Roots, Main Street Coffee, The Parsonage, and City Wok. Property owner Clay Young said that all small businesses are suffering right now and he did not want to put more pressure on them during this difficult time.
Leaders of a small, regional hospital south of Tucson say they are on the brink of closing because of costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. “We need economic relief to keep functioning,” Kelly Adams, CEO of the 49-bed Santa Cruz Valley Regional Hospital, told The Arizona Republic. “There’s a revenue problem. … All hospitals are going to need some economic relief very, very soon.” One of the problems, Adams explained, is that elective surgeries have been canceled as a result of an executive order by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in anticipation of a surge of patients ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The cancellation of surgeries means less revenue coming in from patients at a time when the hospital is trying to comply with another executive order from Ducey — that all Arizona hospitals by April 24 increase their number of patient beds by 50 percent. Increasing bed capacity is adding additional expenses at a time when the hospital has very little revenue, Adams explained. Overall hospital volume is down by about 40% not only because of halting surgeries, leaders say, but also because members of the community fear visiting a hospital where they could potentially be in proximity to COVID-19.
Leaders say the hospital is pursuing various funding sources to get relief. But the need is urgent, said Patrick Feeney, a managing director with California-based Lateral Investment Management, which owns the hospital. “This isn’t just about our hospital. Hospitals cannot function profitably in this environment, which is why we’re all awaiting money from the government,” he said. “If you want me to increase our bed capacity by 50%, how am I going to do that? It’s going to cause me to shut our doors.”
“After living and working in China for over 10 years and speaking fluent Chinese, you get to know a society pretty well… and let me tell you this – if you’re applauding or admiring the political leadership of China, you’re all deluded beyond belief.” That is how “laowhy86” begins this succinct video exploring the ‘facts’ – not conspiracies – behind the source of the coronavirus that is ravaging the earth. “China doesn’t operate like ‘your’ country,” he warns, “the Chinese government is a face- and greed-driven government that relies on lies and bullying to maintain leadership.” [..] laowhy86 notes that another job opening appeared on December 24th (remember this is before any news broke of the virus publicly), which basically says ‘we’ve discovered a new and terrible virus and would like to recruit people to come deal with it’…[..]
So, he decided to dig a little bit more into the staff… and that’s where it gets interesting… as he discovers silenced scientists, disappeared doctors, and constant propaganda… “…it’s quite clear that the Chinese government needs to close its mouth and acknowledge that this virus did in fact come from Wuhan, Hubei, China.” [..] this is all public information on the Chinese internet published by researchers, scientists, and doctors.” [..] “Despite the CCP’s all-powerful ability to hide everything it can, the truth usually finds its way out – the Chinese government should cover their tracks better next time if they’re going to blame this on Italy or the US or whatever is convenient to your narrative.”
“…the CCP’s incompetence and its understanding of the danger of the virus on a pure scientific level – and then going on to silence those who wanted to warn the public… and letting the virus spread for months… is the reason the Chinese government must be held accountable!”
[..] In Spain, the Ministry of Health revealed that 640,000 coronavirus tests that it had purchased from a Chinese supplier were defective. In addition, a further million coronavirus tests delivered to Spain on March 30 by another Chinese manufacturer were also defective. The Czech news site iRozhlas reported that 300,000 coronavirus test kits delivered by China had an error rate of 80%. The Czech Ministry of Interior had paid $2.1 million for the kits. A spokesperson for a hospital in Dutch city of Eindhoven said that Chinese suppliers were selling “a lot of junk… at high prices.” “No. 10 [the residence of the British prime minister] believes China is seeking to build its economic power during the pandemic with ‘predatory offers of help’ to countries around the world.” — The Daily Mail, March 28, 2020.
“The brutal truth is that China seems to flout the normal rules of behavior in every area of life — from healthcare to trade and from currency manipulation to internal repression. For too long, nations have lamely kowtowed to China in the desperate hope of winning trade deals. But once we get clear of this terrible pandemic, it is imperative that we all rethink that relationship and put it on a much more balanced and honest basis.” — Former UK Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith.
[..] On March 28, the Netherlands was forced to recall 1.3 million face masks produced in China because they did not meet the minimum safety standards for medical personnel. The so-called KN95 masks are a less expensive Chinese alternative to the American-standard N95 mask, which currently is in short supply around the world. The KN95 does not fit on the face as tightly as the N95, thus potentially exposing medical personnel to the coronavirus. More than 500,000 of the KN95 masks had already been distributed to Dutch hospitals before the recall was enacted. “When the masks were delivered to our hospital, I immediately rejected them,” a hospital worker told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS. “If those masks do not seal properly, the virus particles can simply pass through. We cannot use them. They are unsafe for our people.”
In a written statement, the Dutch Ministry of Health explained: “A first shipment from a Chinese manufacturer was partly delivered last Saturday. These are masks with a KN95 quality certificate. During an inspection this shipment was found not to meet our quality standard. Part of this shipment had already been delivered to healthcare providers; the rest of the cargo was immediately withheld and not further distributed. “A second test also showed that the masks did not meet our quality standard. It has now been decided that this entire shipment will not be used. New shipments will undergo additional tests.”
Turkey was accused of seizing hundreds of ventilators and sanitary equipment destined for Spain amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic. Spanish officials said Ankara was holding the ventilators for “the treatment of their own patients”, despite local governments in Spain having already paid millions for them. In a press conference on Friday, Spain’s foreign affairs minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, appeared to admit defeat in her attempts to convince her Turkish counterpart to release the ventilators in the coming days. “Turkey has imposed restrictions on the export of medical devices, motivated by the need for medical supplies,” she said, according to Spanish national media. Late on Saturday, however, Ms Laya announced Turkey would allow the shipment to make its way to Spain.
Thanking Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Ms Laya tweeted: “We appreciate the gesture of a friendly and allied country.” Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Friday reported the ventilators were manufactured in Turkey on behalf of a Spanish firm that bought the components from China. Three Spanish regions, Castilla-La Mancha, Navarre and Catalonia, had bought the ventilators, the newspaper reported, while the shipment also featured sanitary materials paid for by the country’s health ministry. But before the equipment could be flown out, Turkish customs intervened. Emiliano Garcia-Page, Castilla-La Mancha’s president, said Turkey has “unilaterally decided to requisition” 150 ventilators it had already paid €3m for. He added he expected the national government to issue a diplomatic complaint about the issue, which he said was “bordering on criminality”.
Cuba was unable to receive a plane with medical supplies and aid from China on March 31 because of the U.S. blockade. The resources were sent by the Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist Jack Ma. According to the official Twitter profile of the Cuban President, Cuba announced that the donation of medical supplies from the Alibaba Foundation to the Island-Nation to combat the COVID19 has not been able to arrive due to the regulations of the criminal blockade of the United States government against our people. The President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, also said this fact is an aggression against the human rights of the Cuban people. Jack Ma, a Chinese entrepreneur and founder of Alibaba, allocated a donation of masks, rapid diagnostic kits, and ventilators.
This aid was intended for the patients affected by COVID-19 and the medical staff on the island. On March 22, the businessman announced this shipment, which was to arrive at its destination on the 30th. “One world, one fight! We will donate emergency supplies – 2 million masks, 400K test kits, 104 ventilators – to 24 Latin American countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Peru. We will ship long-distance, and we will hurry! WE ARE ONE!” Ma also announced extra supplies in the donative, like ventilators, disposable gloves, and medical gowns. However, due to Helms-Burton Law, the airship with the donatives was unable to arrive in Cuba under the argument that “the regulations of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against the country of destination.
[..] Cuba is facing the COVID-19 threat on its territory, with 186 confirmed positive cases and 2,837 suspected patients. Besides, the Caribbean island provides medical assistance to more than 14 countries.
“The FBI and DOJ made up this ‘case,’ threatened to indict his son the next day if he did not plead guilty, hid–and are still hiding–the evidence that shows he is innocent, and they knew that all along..”
Justice Department prosecutors in the case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn are asking the court for an additional three weeks continuance on the case, citing the review of “voluminous” documents submitted by Flynn’s former legal team that represented him for a span [of]30 months. The status report was filed by prosecutors Friday in anticipation of a scheduled hearing on April 3. Justice Department prosecutors stated in the status report that the documents provided by Flynn’s former legal counsel with Covington and Burling “are voluminous, span numerous topics that arose during Covington’s 30-month representation of Mr. Flynn, and include many pages of sometimes difficult-to-decipher handwritten notes.”
[..] In February, Attorney General William Barr ordered a re-examination of several high-profile cases, including Flynns. The re-examination of Flynn’s case will be headed by U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen of St. Louis. According to sources familiar with the matter, Jensen will be working with Brandon Van Grack, who is the former prosecutor that pursued the case against Flynn during Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation. In March, President Donald Trump tweeted he was ‘strongly considering’ a pardon Flynn. He said “after destroying his life & that of his wonderful family (and many others also) the FBI, working in conjunction with the Department of Justice has lost” his records.
Flynn’s defense attorney Sidney Powell told this reporter that Flynn “would wear a pardon like a badge of honor.” She cautioned, however, that the DOJ should intervene before a pardon is even necessary. Powell filed a supplemental motion to withdraw his guilty plea in January. In it, she cited the failure of his previous counsel, Covington and Burling, to timely, fully and correctly advise him of the firm’s ‘conflict of interest in his case’ regarding the Foreign Agents Registration Act form it filed on his behalf. Moreover, she argues that the conflict was so severe the firm was required to withdraw from the matter. He could not consent.
In fact, in Powell’s supplemental motion filed in January, she argued that Flynn’s former counsel “betrayed” him. Powell filed the motion to withdraw his plea just days after Flynn’s prosecutors made a major reversal asking the court to put Flynn in jail for up to six months. Shortly after, prosecutors reversed the jail time recommendation. [..] Powell told SaraACarter.com Friday that “as the government seeks an additional three weeks to work with Covington and Burling LLP against General Flynn, we are reminded again of this egregious injustice against an American hero.”
“The FBI and DOJ made up this ‘case,’ threatened to indict his son the next day if he did not plead guilty, hid–and are still hiding–the evidence that shows he is innocent, and they knew that all along,” she added. “Clapper and Brennan and others knew that Flynn intended to audit and clean out the corrupt intelligence agencies. They and the FBI targeted him to destroy with this false prosecution. Every day the government delays in dismissing this persecution is a disgrace for anything called “Justice” and an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars.”
She means the resolve to keep both Prince Andrew and Julian Assange from facing justice. From a symbol to a useless old woman. Who’s doing terribly damage to her entire family in the process. You can no longer take yourself serious AND support these inbreeds anymore. She’s a accomplice to her son’s crimes; she’s denying his victims even just their day in court.
Queen Elizabeth will call on Britons to show the same resolve as their forebears and take on the challenge and disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak with good-humoured resolve when she makes an extremely rare address to rally the nation on Sunday. In what will only be her fifth special televised message to the country during her 68 years on the throne, the queen will also thank healthcare workers on the front line and recognise the pain already suffered by some families. “I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” the 93-year-old monarch will say, according to extracts released by Buckingham Palace.
“That the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve and of fellow-feeling still characterise this country.” On Saturday, the government said the death toll of those who had tested positive for the virus rose by 708 in 24 hours to 4,313, with a 5-year-old among the dead, along with at least 40 who had no known previous health conditions. Health officials have cautioned that high fatalities were expected for at least another week or two even if people complied with strict isolation measures.
Prince Andrew will reportedly not agree to be interviewed for a forthcoming documentary about the financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The Duke of York has been repeatedly criticized for associating with Epstein, who died in custody in New York following his July 2019 arrest on sex trafficking charges. According to the Daily Mirror, Andrew was “formally asked” to appear in Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, a four-hour Lifetime production slated for release this summer to follow the channel’s similarly titled films about the singer R Kelly. The British paper quoted an unidentified Los Angeles-based source as saying: “Andrew has been asked to appear to discuss his friendship, but there has been no formal response.”
The reports come some four months after Andrew’s own disastrous BBC Newsnight interview, which was followed by his withdrawal from public duties and patronages. An Epstein accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, alleges that Epstein directed her to have sex with Andrew when she was 17. Andrew has categorically denied all claims of wrongdoing and maintains that he has “no recollection” of meeting Roberts Giuffre, although he was photographed with his arm around her. [..] The Mirror quoted its source as saying Andrew’s “legal team have told him to conduct no more interviews after he spoke to the BBC”. “There is a concern anything he says on tape or camera becomes potential legal material for the many civil cases facing Epstein, and FBI questions regarding Andrew. Essentially all allegations that mention Andrew within the context of Epstein will be dealt with by his lawyers.”
[..] In November, Andrew said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required”. But he has been accused of refusing to cooperate with US authorities investigating Epstein, who in 2008 pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution. “Contrary to Prince Andrew’s very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein’s co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation and our office is considering its options,” Manhattan US attorney Geoffrey Berman told reporters in March, revisiting a claim made in January. Buckingham Palace said then it would not comment and said “the issue is being dealt with by the Duke of York’s legal team”.
Imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is not eligible for an early Covid-19 release from prison with other inmates because he is not serving a criminal sentence, the Australian Associated Press has reported. British Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said Saturday that some low-risk inmates, weeks from release, will be let go with monitoring devices to help avoid a further outbreak of Covid-19 in the nations’ prisons. So far 88 prisoners and 15 staff have tested positive for the virus in British prisons. More than 25 percent of the nations’ prison staff are quarantining themselves. “This government is committed to ensuring that justice is served to those who break the law,” Buckland said in a statement.
“But this is an unprecedented situation because if coronavirus takes hold in our prisons, the NHS could be overwhelmed and more lives put at risk.” The Ministry of Justice told the AAP that Assange won’t be among those released because he isn’t serving a custodial sentence. In other words, because he has not been convicted of a crime, and is instead only being held on remand pending the outcome of the U.S. extradition request, he must remain in Belmarsh prison with high-risk inmates–the most serious and hardened criminals. The Daily Maverick reported this week that there is one other prisoner on remand in Belmarsh, who would presumably also be left to rot in the jail as the virus spreads throughout the British prison system.
My stepfather, the man who raised me, was an interesting specimen of that gen. Fresh out of college in Boston, he joined the army, became a lieutenant, and by-and-by found himself trapped in the German offensive through the Ardennes Forest, known as the Battle of the Bulge. Unlike some WW2 vets, he was willing to talk about his experiences. His most vivid memory was the difference between the sound of American and German machine guns. Ours went rat-a-tat-tat, theirs went zzzzzzzap, he said, like you couldn’t even detect the interval between the bullets coming at you. It scared the piss out of his men, not a few of whom were cut to pieces. My stepfather merely caught several chunks of shrapnel in his arm and thigh, and was still on the scene when Germany finally surrendered in May, 1945.
He was awarded a silver star for valor, but never bragged on it. (My mother barely participated in my upbringing, but that’s another story.) He went straight to New York City when it was over. His gen’s victory dance was to get straight to work in the economic bonanza just revving up — because the war had happened elsewhere and all our stuff was intact, ready to re-start, to make and sell anything under the sun to the shattered rest-of-the-world, and lend them money to buy it — quite an opportunity for young men highly disciplined and regimented from their recent travails of war.
My stepfather became a classic Mad Man, as in the TV series, working in media, publishing, and PR, a hard-drinking cohort of mostly military vets who would knock down three martinis over lunch with clients (a nearly inconceivable feat, actually, when you think about it), but that showed what the war had done to the soldiers who survived. He died from it at barely sixty, and from smoking two packs of Camel straights a day, another habit of battle. We Boomer boys had his war as movies and comic books: Sergeant Rock and John Wayne on the beach at Iwo! We had all the fruits of that postwar bonanza. We had Disneyland, the 1964 World’s Fair, the Carousel-of-Progress, and Rock Around the Clock. We eventually had a war of our own, Vietnam, but it was optional for college kids. I declined to go get my ass shot off, of course.
It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of it. It has become a two-way street; and isn’t that liberating, when you think about it?
Thanks everyone for your wonderfully generous donations over the past days.
26% of the population of Milwaukee is black:
In the event you haven’t seen this, trust me when I say the language barrier is no problem. Watch to the end. As my mom said upon seeing, necessity is the mother of invention. Clearly that’s the case in my grandparents’ home.